At a recent meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and AILA reps the following questions came up:
The regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(e)(19)(i) state that E visa holders may be admitted for an initial period of not more than two (2) years. It has been our understanding that E visa holders with valid E visas and passports valid for more than 2 years should be admitted for two years upon each entry, regardless of the expiration of validity of the visa. However, some CBP officers are admitting E visa holders only until the expiration of validity of their E visas.
Please confirm that, assuming no other adverse factors, E visa holders should be admitted for two years on every admission, and not be limited to the length of their visas.
Please confirm that, absent a specific reason to question the ongoing validity of E status, no additional documentation should be required to be presented, other than the visa and passport.
The CBP responded:
CBP concurs that the appropriate period of admission for E-1 and E-2 visa holders is 2 years on each entry. This is consistent with established CBP policy and with the Inspectors’ Field Manual. Officers in the field should be processing E visa holders accordingly. While overall CBP statistics do not reflect that this is a systemic problem, CBP acknowledges that there are instances of error. When those arise, they should be addressed locally, but CBP invites the liaison committee to bring to HQ’s attention specific officers or Ports of Entry (POE) that are having consistent problems in this area.
CBP notes that passport validity may impact the period of admissibility of an E visa holder. However, when a visa is scanned by CBP, the class of entry and the period of entry are calculated automatically. An officer needs to override the default period of admission in order to admit the traveler for a shorter period.
If a traveler feels that the I-94 period of admission was short, then it is best to raise the issue at the POE. CBP is willing to issue a muster if the issue is so widespread that a muster is indicated, but the agency prefers that travelers first address this issue locally with supervisors and managers. If specific officers or POEs present a consistent problem, then HQ wants to know so that they can determine whether the issue is one of training or compliance.
E visa travelers should typically not have to present any documents other than the passport with a valid visa. In some instances CBP may request additional information, usually for purposes of fraud interdiction or to compare the traveler’s information to information available to CBP from other sources. This is an exceptional circumstance.
CBP also noted that the issue of shortened E visa admission is more likely to occur at some land ports that do not see many E visas than at airports and other busy POEs. We will keep you posted with any new updates.