Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been implementing “Simplified Arrival” at all airports, seaports, and most ports of entry since early 2022. The purpose is to secure and streamline the entry process. But the elimination of paper documentation is raising issues for foreign nationals.
One outcome of Simplified Arrival implementation is that CBP no longer issues paper Form I-94s. That information is entered into the I-94 online system, which means foreign nationals are not able to see the I-94 until they enter the United States, as opposed to being handed a paper Form I-94 when they interact with the CBP officer. Additionally, in August 2022, CBP started eliminating passport stamping, which is the only other immediate visual record of the entry.
Accurate entry and exist records are important and CBP does not always get it right, which creates downstream problems. Foreign nationals need to document their correct entries and exits for, among other things:
- Tax residence purposes
- H and L time recapture
- Proving L intermittent status
- Proving maintenance of status
- Avoiding 3-and-10-year bars that result from unlawful presence
- Documenting changes of status
- Proving naturalization eligibility
The elimination of passport stamps may be particularly impactful to permanent residents tracking time in the United States to become eligible for U.S. citizenship, because their entries and exits are not documented in the I-94 system.
Because the I-94 website is not always accurate and may not be available in the case of permanent residents, foreign nationals need back-up plans. Consider the following:
- Download information from the I-94 website as soon as possible after entry – before leaving the airport would be best – to ensure the information is accurate.
- If the information is not correct, the traveler should contact Deferred Inspection at the airport or the closest location. Thereafter, it is also possible to contact Deferred Inspection by email.
- Try requesting a passport stamp upon arrival. This should still be possible, but it will be at the discretion of the officer.
- Try requesting a passport stamp at Deferred Inspection.
- As a final back-up, keep all your travel and lodging receipts, itineraries, and credit card statements to document time spent outside of the United States.
If you have questions about how best to document your international travel, Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist.