The I-94 Record is Critical for Nonimmigrant Visa Holders.
August 15, 2023
Non-U.S. citizen travelers should not be surprised if upon arrival to the United States they are not issued a physical I-94 (the arrival- departure record used by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and intended to keep track of the arrival and departure to/from the U.S. of non-U.S. citizens). CBP recently confirmed that in an effort to increase efficiency, reduce operating costs, and streamline the admissions process, foreign visitors to the U.S. no longer need to complete paper I-94s and that at the land border, travelers will be issued I-94s electronically. CBP has automated Form I-94 at air, sea, and land ports of entry which can be accessed on the I-94 official website. Although the paper Form I-94 will only be issued in very limited circumstances (e.g., to certain asylees and parolees), other travelers can request the paper Form I-94 form during inspection but all such requests will be accommodated in a secondary setting.
Additionally, travelers may notice that they are no longer receiving admission ink stamps on their passports based on CBP’s decision to eliminate admission stamps on passports. This is a critical development because it is imperative that travelers keep track of their entries and exists to and from the U.S. to ensure they are in compliance with the terms of their admission into the U.S. To this end, CBP has provided travelers with a Traveler Compliance Check on the I-94 website and the CBP app discussed below. Note that some travelers have the option to receive a CBP admission or entry stamps on their travel documents on request, e.g., travelers entering Canada and those entering Mexico.
Why Nonimmigrants Must Review Their I-94 Records
Non-U.S. citizens must pay close attention to the departure dates on their I-94 records because this record dictates how long they can stay and/or work in the U.S. Travelers requiring copies of their I-94 records for verification of alien registration, immigration status, or employment authorization, can obtain such records from CBP’s official I-94 site. CBP also provides directions regarding downloading the CBP One™ mobile application which can be used to access the I-94 record as further outlined below.
The CBP One™ Mobile Application
CBP One™ is a mobile application launched by CBP to serve as a single portal to a variety of CBP services. Through a series of guided questions, the app is expected to direct users to the appropriate travel or trade services based on their needs. Currently, CBP One™ provides options that include having travelers apply for and view their I-94s, and to check land border wait times from their mobile device.
The I-94 entry feature on the app is meant to allow travelers to apply for a provisional I-94 before arriving at a land border crossing. Although the app is not without controversy with respect to it currently being the main pathway for entry into the U.S. by asylum seekers who are at the U.S.-Mexico border, CBP indicates that those who apply for their I-94 ahead of time will experience faster processing times to expedite entry. According to CBP, travelers can also access their current I-94 submission to view critical information such as how long they can remain in the U.S., and use it for proof of visitor status once in the U.S. In May 2023, CBP announced that it had expanded the app to expand the number of appointments available, allow for additional time to complete requests, and prioritize those who have been waiting the longest.
What If The I-94 Contains An Error?
Although the electronic version of the I-94 was created to eliminate errors because the information is obtained from official documents and officers’ input, CBP concedes that there are instances where errors may occur and U.S. Customs may admit travelers into the country and indicate incorrect status or validity period on the I-94 making it necessary for travelers to have these errors corrected to maintain accurate I-94 records.
Find out how Accel Visa Attorneys, PC can help you with your questions regarding employment-based admission into the United States (including how to correct errors on your I-94 record). Schedule a consultation with us!