U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will no longer issue a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, to individuals arriving to the United States at a land border. Now, the information that was on the I-94 is on the CBP’s I-94 website and available on the CBP One Mobile application.
It has taken some time, but paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Records and passport admission stamps are becoming a thing of the past. CBP has automated this process at land borders. (CBP had already automated the Form I-94 process for foreign nationals arriving to the United States by air and sea several years ago.)
Nonimmigrants entering the United States by land used to receive a paper Form I-94 that they would staple into their passports as evidence of their approved length of stay. The Form I-94 serves as an official record of one’s status in the United States and when their lawful stay in the country expires.
CBP also has started to eliminate the practice of stamping an admission date inside the passport of foreign nationals arriving in the United States, according to several reports.
Accordingly, nonimmigrant individuals should check the CBP’s I-94 website or the mobile app upon their arrival to ensure the information entered is correct (i.e., visa classification, duration of permitted stay, and so on). This is a critical step to take. The Form I-94 may be the only proof a foreign national may have of their lawful admission the United States. Using the website, the individual simply needs to enter their name, date of birth, passport number, and country of citizenship. Sometimes the nonimmigrant might have to enter their name more than once in different formats (reversing first and last names or including or not including middle initials or checking spelling) to pull up the information. On the website or the mobile app, the nonimmigrant will find their visa status and approved length of stay. They can also review their travel history as the CBP site should list all arrivals and departures.
The CBP has a system for correcting errors, but reaching out to its deferred inspection office where you entered or sending an email to the office is likely faster. If the information is not correct (or not what you thought it should be), it is crucial to reach out to your immigration counsel. An unreported or incorrect length of stay or visa classification can lead to a nonimmigrant overstaying or being out of status, and the individual starts to accumulate unlawful presence. If a nonimmigrant is out of status, that individual will not be able to extend or change status without leaving the United States. In addition, if an individual accumulates 180 days or more of unlawful presence, that individual is not only out of status, but could become subject to the three- and 10-year bars to reentry if they must leave the United States to apply for a visa abroad.
Nonimmigrants who need a paper Form I-94 can request one at the port of entry, but they likely will need to go to deferred inspection office to receive one.
Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist with any questions about the I-94 process and issues.