TN Visa Workers May Avoid Receiving I-94 Limited to Passport Expiration if Have an Alternative Identity Document

CBP officers at the border require nonimmigrants including TN visa workers to present a passport that is valid for the entire period of their proposed stay. If an individual’s passport is not valid for the full period of stay, e.g. an individual seeking a 3-year TN, then CBP will limit the individual’s entry to the U.S. (as recorded on an I-94 card) to the expiration date of his/her passport.

Within the TN visa context the question then arises: Was such an individual approved for 3-years of TN status, but had his/her period of stay in the U.S. limited to the expiration of the passport? Or did CBP limit both the TN status and period of authorized stay to the passport expiration date? There does not appear any national policy on how CBP adjudicates TNs in this scenario. However, it appears that most CBP offices will limit the I-94 card to the passport, but approve an individual’s TN status for 3-years in CBP’s database. As previously written, CBP has never provided any guidance on the procedure for obtaining the balance of one’s TN status after renewing his/her passport.  This lack of clear guidelines often results in TN visa workers making repeated trips to multiple CBP offices before the issue is finally resolved.

If an individual has a passport that will expire prior to the proposed period of stay, one way to potentially avoid receiving a shortened I-94 card, is if the individual has an alternative WHTI compliant document with a longer validity period.  According to a recent AILA National Liaison meeting, CBP may refer to an alternative WHTI document in lieu of a passport to determine the expiration date of an individual’s period of admission. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12092154 (posted 09/21/12). This means that an individual can use an enhanced driver’s license or trusted travel card like NEXUS to obtain a TN I-94 card for a longer period than his/her passport expiration. The TN visa applicant would have to present to the CBP officer the last expiring document in order to be admitted for the longer period of time. Id.