I94 update for L2 spouse in rainbow bridge with L1B approval notice

L1B details:
Visa validity - 6 Dec 2022
I94 validity - 3 Sep 2022
Applied extension in Jul 2022 and got it approved in premium processing till 10 Oct 2023.

L2 details:
Visa validity - 6 Dec 2022
I94 validity - 3 Sep 2022
EAD validity - 3 Sep 2022 (it was applied before the no EAD rule)
Applied extension in Jul 2022 along with primary applicant, got receipt notice and approval is still pending with USCIS.

We read a lot about updating spouse’s I94 based on primary’s approved petition by going out of country or cross a border. We do not have Canadian visa, however we wanted to try our luck by driving up to Niagara falls (Rainbow bridge) as it is 6 Hrs drive from our place and we can walk over the bridge.

We reached around 3 PM and the bridge was little crowded since it is a weekend. We initially hesitated to step out of US side as we were worried about denying entry into Canada and potential risk of detention or problems with existing petition. Tried to ask a CBP officer at the enquiry booth but the response was terrible (Typical CBP officer response). There was a number pasted in the enquiry booth to call Canada customs officers and enquire about the situation. The line takes forever to connect and sometimes drops due to technical issues. We spent 2 hr trying to talk to a CBP officer from the Canada before crossing the bridge which ended up in vain. Finally we gathered up some courage and entered the gate at the USA side which connects to the bridge and returned back to USA CBP office without reaching Canada side of the bridge hoping that will help us with our I94 update. At the POE, CBP officer scanned our passports and asked if we have entered Canada for which we explained our situation and told that we didn’t enter Canada. He replied that the I94 can not be updated as we haven’t technically left USA and suggested to either travel to Mexico or India and come back as we will not require a visa.

We came to our hotel and decided to book a flight ticket to Mexico (Cancun) for following weekend as we needed to update my spouse’s I94 before 3 Sep to continue her employment. At night, we gathered some more courage and decided to give it another try by reaching Canada side (based on many blog posts we read). We straight away crossed the US side gate, walked across the bridge and reached the Canada side. We explained the situation to the CBS officer and initially he told that we can not enter Canada as we do not have a valid visa to enter. We explained him that we are not intending to enter Canada but would want to get our I94 updated in US and we had already paid for I94 online (BTW i applied for I94 online and paid $6 land border crossing fees, which was not needed actually). He was kind and polite. He took our passports, scanned them and told us to follow him. We walked past the bridge and went to the CBS office situated closer. He was doing some paperwork and asked us to wait in the seating area. After 15 mins -20 mins (since there was very few people), he called us and asked us to follow him to the bridge. At the bridge, he handed over our passports, and a document stating our name, passport number, DOB, nationality and reason for inadmissibility to Canada (flagpole). He told us to hand the document over to the US CBP officer.

We walked back to the US CBP office. The CBP officer didn’t respond politely as the CBP officer we encountered in the afternoon or the Canadian office. He updated my spouse’s I94 to the date until my approval date after we explained the situation once again and handed over our passports and document provided by CBS office. It was reflected immediately online.

Word of advise:

  • This option is purely on the basis of luck as the CBP/CBS officers need to understand that this process is legal and willing to do that for you.
  • Try this option if you have valid documents in hand and it is drivable from your place.
  • Try going there during weekdays as it will be less crowded.
  • Have backup options ready in case this doesn’t work
  • Try to use the word “Flagpole” as it is being used by temporary residents of Canada to extend their status.
  • Pray god that you will face nice officers at both sides :slight_smile:
  • All the best
1 Like

Thank you for sharing a much needed personal experience. This will be greatly helpful for our forum users.