Soft landed @ Peace arch (i94 question)

We completed our landing procedures yesterday at peace arch in WA. Overall a very smooth experience. I’ll type up a separate post for my experience with soft landing at peace arch soon!

I am on H1 and wife on H4; both with expired visas and valid i797s.

We used AVR to return back. And it was very quick! The officer just scanned our passports and looked at our i797s. That’s really it. They didn’t give us any new i94s, but when asked about it — they pointed to our i94s in our I797 and said those are the new ones.

Note that the online i94 hasn’t updated but the travel history has.

Has anyone seen this situation before? Is this expected at a border crossing while using AVR?

I did land crossing with same scenario as you, expired Visas and valid i797s. And visa officer also did not give me new i94 or update online.

And similarly when I asked for i94, he pointed me to the i94 on 797s.

@usa2canada Oh, I see. So seems like it’s pretty common practice. You mentioned you’ve used AVR multiple times. Have they never issued a new I94 and never updated the online one? Just asked you to use the paper I94 in I797?

I also read experiences of @sasikbandi and @basky where they weren’t issue new I94s as well. Did y’alls online I94 record ever update in that case OR is it the same as before?

No. They never issued me a new i94 and it still shows the old one online.
And yes officer asked to use the i94 on 797.

hello @ameha - We are planning to do soft landing next week via road, i.e. we will be crossing the border in the car and be back the same day.

I was wondering:

  1. If you stayed in canada for more than 14 days?

  2. If you filled the Arrive Canada app and if so, what did you enter in the Arrive Can app for quarantine section.

Your feedback is very much appreciated. Thank you!

:wave: @shwitzu

  • We did not stay in Canada for 14 days. There is no need to quarantine if you have vaccination proof and a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of entry.

  • One surprise was that the border agent did ask us to take a random covid test even though we had vaxx cards and our own covid test. But they were clear that they didn’t expect us to stay over and were okay with us returning back on the same day.

  • We did fill up ArriveCAN on the day of travel. We added our proof of vaccination and other details. We also added our friends address as quarantine address — as a fallback.

@ameha , thank you for sharing your experience. It’s helpful.

My spouse’s H-4 visa application was recently approved and we are contemplating doing our soft landing sometime next month. We haven’t received a physical copy of the official I-797 approval, but we do have a soft copy of the notice.

My spouse has an expired F-1 visa on the passport and the approval notice has a I-94 expiry in July 2022. Based on this scenario, can we travel back to the US using AVR?

@j9lad this is not legal advice — so take it with caution — but I’d play safe here.

As far as I know, they need official copies of i797 and the i94 in it. So, I’d just wait for the approval to land in your hands.

@ameha : Yes, makes sense. Thank you. We do plan to wait for the official notice to land in our mailbox.

However, with the scenario of a valid I-94 and an approved H-4 I-797 notice, we’d be eligible for an AVR return without going through the visa stamping process?

@j9lad Not legal advice —

Our case was that we have h1, h4 expired stamps and h1, h4 approved i797s.

I’ve read in this forum that folks have traveled with I797 which has a change of status with respect to the stamp in their passport.

There is a very recent experience in October where the OP with F1 expired stamp and h1 i797 used AvR at the Peace Arch.

Since this isn’t legal advice, I’d suggest emailing the CBP or calling them up and getting more information. Also, @usa2canada if you have insights, do chime in.

Thank you, @ameha . Really appreciate your insights. This was super helpful.

I’ve also clarified with the legal team associated with my employer, but just wanted to ask here to learn more about similar experiences.

Of course @j9lad happy to help. Good luck! Have fun. Get some good food while you’re there!

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Oh I forgot to mention — If you’re traveling to peace arch, note that they’re giving out random covid tests even if you’re vaccinated.

No need to be alarmed. We submitted our test and still returned on the same day. They said no need to quarantine or wait for the tests.


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I have nothing to chime in, @ameha already said everything and I would agree. And since you already checked with your company lawyer, they are the best to consult regarding immigration laws. :slight_smile:

I would say that once you get your H-4 approval, you can go and complete your soft landing without any issue.

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Thanks for responding. Appreciate it. Also, I had a question about AVR. We have expired H1B stamp but i797 valid until 2023 and i94. How was the process back to the US?

@shwitzu Coming back was a breeze. The officer was very friendly— asked couple of questions about why to Canada and where from Canada we were coming from. That’s it. He scanned our passports, checked our i797s and said you’re good.

I’ve heard that most folks who get asked for a secondary inspection are folks who have mismatching type of status of the expired stamp (h1,h4,f1) and the type of status on i797. But those processes are also very straightforward.

Thank you so much, @ameha and @usa2canada ! You guys rock :slight_smile: Really appreciate all the clarifications so far.

We decided to do the soft landing in the first week of December. However, I intend to stay in British Columbia for a week instead of returning back the same day. With several changes implemented on travel in the recent past, I was wondering if you could provide some insights on the following:

  • Can SIN and banking application services be availed right now with things getting back to normal in the recent past?

  • Can a US-based rental car be used to drive around British Columbia for a week?

  • I’d read somewhere that it’s recommended to do a soft landing and turn around from the Canadian side if the intention is to not move permanently. Is this still generally suggested even for vaccinated folks? We’re planning to stay there for a week.

  • Lastly, from a checklist point of view, what are some things that are suggested to be done after landing?

I appreciate you taking the time to clarify the scenario with AVR. Would be grateful if you could share your thoughts on a few of the aforementioned questions.

@j9lad Once you finish the COPR signing, you should be able to get the SIN application at one of the Canada service centers. I believe SIN will then be used to open bank accounts et al.

  • In my limited knowledge, rental car should be good. Just ensure you let the rental company know that you’ll be driving across the border.
  • Hmm, I haven’t heard that. Once you are done with COPR proceedings, you are a PR. It’s then upto you when to travel back. You should be able to stay there for however long you like.
  • We didn’t do much. We tried going to get a SIN but the center we went to was very crowded. Since we were returning back the same day, we drove back. My friend’s suggestions were to at-least get SIN & open a bank account.
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  • I think you should be able to get SIN and banking services without any issue. I stayed in Canada for couple of days, but was lazy to get any of them done.

  • Yes. You can drive rental car without any issue. But definitely let the rental car company know that you are taking it to Canada.

  • No. There is no such requirement to turn around right away after soft landing. Because I had told officer that I am going to turn right away, but then I had to go to Starbucks as it took too long at the border. And the officer said “Now you are Canadian PR, nobody can stop you from entering into Canada. Feel free to go anywhere in Canada.”

  • I also didn’t do much. But I am planning to Canada sometime in december and get rest of the stuff done.

I had read somewhere in forum that you can apply for SIN number online also from USA. And they will mail the SIN number to USA.

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Thank you so much, @ameha and @usa2canada for all the insights. Really appreciate the both of you clarifying all my queries and elaborating in detail to each specific point :blush: