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Activate H1B at San Ysidro PedWest facility

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Posted by Pumpkin22 (4) 13 Feb 2018#1
Hello,

I am currently on TN status (Canadian by birth) and I have approved I-797B Notice of Action for H1B status.
My lawyer is saying I have to depart US and re-enter the US in order to activate the H1B status.
I was planning to drive to San Ysidro PedWest facility in San Diego. Do I really have to leave US and re-enter?
I have read online that many people have gone to San Ysido PedWest facility (just opened in July 2016) to obtain a new I-94 card after re-newing their passport. They say it is not necessary to leave US, you can park across the street (paid parking) and walk to the new building and ask for the line to obtain new I-94.
Can I do the same thing, and ask for the line to activate my H1B? (bringing approved I-797B, passport, diploma, etc)
Or do I really have to walk into Mexico, on east side of border, walk across to west side and enter the new PedWest facility?
Anyone have similar experience?
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Posted by usics (343) 13 Feb 2018#2
to Pumpkin22:

It works like this, when you leave US boundary & just before Mexico entry there will be a U turn option, this way you enter US but without entering Mexico & this is called flagpoling.
I would recommend you do this at a Canada border.
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Posted by Pumpkin22 (4) 13 Feb 2018#3
to usics:

thanks for confirmation. Why do you recommend Canada?
I am in LA area and it is 1.5 hour drive to San Diego, but much longer to Canada. I want to avoid flying to Canada (expensive and my company won't pay for it)
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Posted by usics (343) 13 Feb 2018#4
to Pumpkin22:

With Mex there is lot of trouble, I would just chose a smooth process. CBP suspects drug trafficking.
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Posted by JoeF18 (2170) 14 Feb 2018#5
to usics:

I don't think that's much of an issue for people who need to get an I-94 from the CBP office there ($6, btw.) Drug smugglers want to avoid contact with US officials...
Back when I lived in the San Diego area, I never had any issues at San Ysidro. What they care about is US teenagers coming back from drinking in Tijuana (drinking age in Mexico is 18.)
Another possibility is Otay Mesa, a few miles to the east. Less crowded.
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Posted by Pumpkin22 (4) 21 Feb 2018#6
to Pumpkin22:

I activated my H1B over the weekend. It was over 2 hour wait, but easy. I did not have to walk into Mexico. I parked the at the Outlet mall next door and walked to the PedWest facility. In hindsight I should have paid for our I94 cards online in advance. They had three lines, one for Sentri, One for pre-paid I94 and one to obtain I94. My spouse, child and I went to standard line to obtain I94. We waited outside build in hot sun for about 1 hour. Then after entering building (they let in about 25 at a time) we waited about another hour for our turn. The CBP officer said it was the first time he had a Canadian activating an H1B and asked why I did not do it on entry from Canada. I mentioned I was currently on TN and living in Orange County and it was only 1.5 hour drive to Mexico border. He understood and processed the paperwork, no other questions. He fingerprinted us, webcam photo and gave us our new I-94 with H1B and H4 status. It was easy.
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Posted by usics (343) 21 Feb 2018#7
to Pumpkin22:

Thats nice one, congrats & thanks for posting here.
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