This week the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency, which manages and protects US borders and ports of entry, announced the release of a new rule to automate the I-94 admission/departure process. Once in effect, the rule will be implemented over a planned four week period, beginning at airports in Orlando, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Charlotte, and then expanding nationwide. CBP recently met with stakeholders and explained that the current system, whereby foreign travelers entering the US receive a stamped paper card in their passports as proof of lawful admission, and then have the card removed when they depart, costs the agency in excess of $12 million per year in data entry costs through a government contractor. As the same data is reportedly available digitally to CBP already, the move has been presented as a way to not only reduce government expenditures, but also to smooth travel into and out of the country and enhance the data integrity of these records. Once the new system is implemented, international travelers will still have access to a paper I-94, and flyers to be handed out at airports and other ports of entry will direct anyone needing a hard copy of their I-94 record to visit www.cbp.gov/I94. Visitors often need a hard copy of their I-94 form to demonstrate the ability to work legally in the United States or to obtain other benefits. The new website will go live 30 days from the date the new rule is published in the Federal Register, the same date that the rule is anticipated to take effect. It is unclear whether there will be a public comment period announced, so readers are encouraged to check back for updates.
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