What you must know when you have a visa and travel outside of the United States

I was recently reminded of the importance of taking a family vacation. To celebrate my wife’s 40th birthday, we decided to go down to San Diego. We went to the beach, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld. We had an awesome time everywhere we visited.

As it happens, it’s been over a year since our last trip together as a family. We usually try to take a family trip at least once a year, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen last year. So now we’re making up for that lost time.

While I was out of the office, with my family by the ocean, I realized how refreshing it is to have this time with my family. We’re together, relaxing, having a great time, and not worrying about our everyday lives back home. While I was away, I was thankful to know that our legal team was making sure that all of our clients were being taken care of.

Being that we were in San Diego, the weather was perfect for spending time on the beach and exploring the parks. It also made me realize how much I missed the ocean, living in the Sacramento area.

On the topic of travel, and with the summer travel season coming up in a matter of months, I wanted to take some time to talk about a situation travelers need to be mindful of if they are in the U.S. on a visa.

Before traveling out of the U.S., either on a return visit back home, for vacation, or for any other reason, be sure to check the expiration date on your passport. As a general rule, it’s always important to know when it expires so that if you need to renew it, you can take care of it ahead of your travel plans.

In this case, however, while you want to be aware of your passport’s expiration, you also need to be sure your passport is valid for at least as long as the validity of your visa and authorized stay in the U.S. Otherwise, when you return to the U.S. — without extending the validity of your passport — your I-94 will only be issued up until the point your passport expires.

It’s a confusing situation to be in. Let’s say your passport expires in 2019, but your visa expires in 2021. When you re-enter the U.S., the port of entry officer will not provide you an I-94 that is valid beyond the date that your passport expires. This can lead to situations where people think they’re in the U.S. legally when they’re not — and it’s because they didn’t check the validity of these documents.

Not being aware of the valid dates of your passport, visa, or any other immigration document can lead to a lot of legal issues. These issues can then lead to lost time, money, and other complications as you try to correct the problem.

So as you plan your next vacation or trip back home to visit family, check your document and expiration dates. That way, when you return to the U.S., you can be sure you’re here legally and you don’t have anything to worry about.

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