Avoid Overstaying an F-1 Visa: Update Your Arrival/Departure Record!

If you are a foreign student studying in the U.S. under an F-1 visa, you have likely been warned about what can happen if you overstay your visa. You may be banned from returning to the US for several years if you allow your visa to expire, so it is vital that you update your I-94 to reflect that your visit to the US has ended.

The I-94 is the official Arrival/Departure Record, which may be issued to a foreign national by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer in either paper or electronic format (as of May 1, 2013, most Arrival/Departure records will be processed electronically). Visitors will be given an annotated stamp in their passports reflecting the date by which the visitor must leave the US.

Here are a few ways you may legally update your I-94 when departing the US.

  • Commercial air or sea carrier. If you leave the US via a commercial airline or cruise ship, your departure may be electronically verified, and it is not necessary to take any further action. However, retaining your dated, US-issued boarding pass may help you re-enter the U.S. when filing a new visa application.
  • Land exit. If you are leaving the US via car, bus, train, or other ground conveyance, you must present your I-94 (or stamped passport) to a CBP Officer at a land border. If a CBP Officer does not give you confirmation of your departure, you may be classified as an "overstay," risking your chances of obtaining a new visa in the future.
Vaughan de Kirby
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San Francisco California EB-5 Investment Immigration Attorney
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