Why Form I-94 Matters: Tracking Your U.S. Entry and Exit Dates?

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How Does Form I-94 Affect Your Travel to the U.S.?

Form I-94, also known as the Arrival/Departure Record Card, is a vital document issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to monitor the movements of non-citizens and lawful permanent residents entering and leaving the United States. 

This document is key for several reasons:

  1. It acts as official evidence of your legal entry into the country.
  2. It details the deadline by which you are required to leave the U.S., a crucial piece of information for non-immigrants like students or visiting scholars who are permitted to stay only for a designated period.
  3. The I-94 form also records the authorized length of your stay, aiding employers in verifying whether you are eligible to work in the U.S. during that time.

In the past, passengers had to turn in a small white paper card called Form I-94 to leave the country. These days, the I-94 is usually recorded electronically for travelers arriving by air or sea. Nonetheless, the conventional paper form may still be given to tourists arriving in the United States via land. The operation of the current system will be examined in this article.

Who Requires an I-94 Form When Traveling to the U.S.?

The I-94 form is necessary for most individuals traveling to the United States who are not citizens, including tourists, students, temporary workers, and exchange visitors. It is also required for those who are adjusting their status or planning to extend their current non-immigrant stay while in the U.S., as well as non-citizens re-entering the country after traveling abroad. However, not everyone needs an I-94 record. 

Exemptions include:

  1. U.S. Citizens
  2. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
  3. Individuals holding an immigrant visa
  4. Canadian citizens visiting or in transit
  5. Travelers under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who instead use the I-94W, typically processed online.

Most individuals entering the United States who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents automatically receive an I-94 travel record form upon arrival. However, there are exceptions for certain groups:

  1. Participants in the Visa Waiver Program or Compact of Free Association
  2. Individuals using Border Crossing Cards
  3. Those re-entering the U.S. under the automatic visa revalidation system, which applies to some visa holders who make short trips to Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean
  4. Temporary entrants who are part of an airline flight crew

These categories of travelers do not receive a standard I-94 form upon entry into the United States.

Alternative Documentation for Travelers Not Requiring a Standard I-94

Certain individuals who do not need a standard I-94 travel record are required to complete alternative forms upon entry into the United States. Visitors under visa waivers must fill out Form I-94W, while flight crew members should complete Form I-95. Both forms serve purposes similar to the traditional I-94. Upon arrival, consult with a CBP Officer to determine if this applies to you.

Obtaining an I-94 Record

The process of obtaining an I-94 record varies based on your mode of entry into the U.S..

How to Receive Your I-94 When Entering the U.S. by Land

Upon entering the United States via a land border crossing, you will receive a paper I-94 card, which serves as a physical record of your entry and the terms of your stay. This card is issued at the border crossing by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Additionally, to expedite the process at the border, you have the option to pre-apply for your I-94 through the CBP's online system, which incurs a $6 fee.

How to Access Your I-94 After Entering the U.S. by Air or Sea

For those entering the U.S. by air or sea, the I-94 process is digital. Upon arrival, you will interact with a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent who will check your passport and visa, then enter your details into an electronic tracking system. This system automatically creates your electronic I-94 record. Your passport will be stamped to indicate a lawful entry into the U.S.

After this process, you will usually be given instructions on how to access your electronic I-94 online. Through the CBP’s online portal, you can view, download, or print your travel record at any time, which is useful for verifying your legal status, employment eligibility, or for administrative purposes related to your stay in the U.S.

Keeping Track of Your I-94 Form

Whether your I-94 is on paper or an electronic device, it is important to protect it. If you have a paper I-94, remember to submit it upon departing the U.S. to help the government verify your exit before your visa expires. Additionally, you might need this form for various administrative procedures, such as applying for a driver's license, securing employment, or altering your immigration status.

Key Details of Your I-94 Arrival and Departure Records

The I-94 travel records provide a detailed account of your entries and exits from the U.S., recorded via your I-94 documentation. These records encapsulate the specific dates of your arrivals and departures, including the entry and exit points, and your admission category—such as tourism or educational pursuits. Each record details the duration of authorized stay for every visit.

Your passport, stamped by a CBP agent, along with your electronic or paper I-94 form, displays your "Admit Until Date." This date indicates the maximum time you are permitted to stay in the U.S. In some cases, the CBP agent may note "Duration of Status" or "D/S" instead of a specific date, signifying that your stay is valid as long as your visa conditions are maintained.

The Importance of Your I-94 Travel Records

Your I-94 travel history holds significant importance for various reasons:

  1. It validates your legal entry into the United States for previous visits.
  2. When applying to change or adjust your immigration status, your I-94 travel history may be required as essential evidence.
  3. It can resolve discrepancies or issues in your immigration records.

Accessing Your I-94 Travel History

You can retrieve your I-94 travel history through the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) website, which typically displays the last five years of your travel history. If necessary, you can request a complete history from the website.

Additionally, if you extend your stay or adjust your status in the U.S.—for instance, by obtaining a green card—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will issue a new I-94 or alternative documents reflecting your updated status. This new documentation becomes the primary evidence of your lawful status in the U.S.

Understanding Your I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number

Upon lawful entry into the United States, the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) issues an I-94 form, assigning a unique record number to each individual. This number is specific to the particular entry and purpose of your visit to the U.S., meaning you will receive a new I-94 number with each entry. You can locate this number on either your paper I-94 card or your electronic record. This number may be required by various agencies, such as a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or by your employer for record-keeping purposes.

Should you need to replace your Form I-94, you can easily do so through the CBP website or by contacting CBP at 1-877-CBP-5511 (1-877-227-5511) from Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Previously, I-94 numbers consisted of an 11-digit numeric string. However, since May 2019, CBP has adopted an 11-character alphanumeric system, blending letters and numbers. There is no need for concern regarding this change; all unexpired I-94 forms issued under the former numeric system will remain valid up to their designated "Admit Until Date."

Cost Details for the I-94 Form

The I-94 form itself does not incur a fee, applicable whether you enter the U.S. by land, air, or sea, and irrespective of whether you receive a paper or electronic record.

If you plan to arrive at a U.S. land border, you have the option to apply online for a provisional I-94 up to one week before your arrival. This application costs $6 and is designed to expedite your entry process, helping you avoid long waits at the border.

Accessing a copy of your I-94 travel record is free if you entered the U.S. after April 2013. For entries prior to this date, you may obtain a copy by submitting Form I-102, known as the "Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document," along with a filing fee of $560.

While there is no charge for the I-94 travel record itself, the broader process of immigrating can involve substantial costs. Best of luck with your travels and immigration procedures!

1

June 12, 2024

1 1

How Does Form I-94 Affect Your Travel to the U.S.?

Form I-94, also known as the Arrival/Departure Record Card, is a vital document issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to monitor the movements of non-citizens and lawful permanent residents entering and leaving the United States. 

This document is key for several reasons:

  1. It acts as official evidence of your legal entry into the country.
  2. It details the deadline by which you are required to leave the U.S., a crucial piece of information for non-immigrants like students or visiting scholars who are permitted to stay only for a designated period.
  3. The I-94 form also records the authorized length of your stay, aiding employers in verifying whether you are eligible to work in the U.S. during that time.

In the past, passengers had to turn in a small white paper card called Form I-94 to leave the country. These days, the I-94 is usually recorded electronically for travelers arriving by air or sea. Nonetheless, the conventional paper form may still be given to tourists arriving in the United States via land. The operation of the current system will be examined in this article.

Who Requires an I-94 Form When Traveling to the U.S.?

The I-94 form is necessary for most individuals traveling to the United States who are not citizens, including tourists, students, temporary workers, and exchange visitors. It is also required for those who are adjusting their status or planning to extend their current non-immigrant stay while in the U.S., as well as non-citizens re-entering the country after traveling abroad. However, not everyone needs an I-94 record. 

Exemptions include:

  1. U.S. Citizens
  2. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
  3. Individuals holding an immigrant visa
  4. Canadian citizens visiting or in transit
  5. Travelers under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who instead use the I-94W, typically processed online.

Most individuals entering the United States who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents automatically receive an I-94 travel record form upon arrival. However, there are exceptions for certain groups:

  1. Participants in the Visa Waiver Program or Compact of Free Association
  2. Individuals using Border Crossing Cards
  3. Those re-entering the U.S. under the automatic visa revalidation system, which applies to some visa holders who make short trips to Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean
  4. Temporary entrants who are part of an airline flight crew

These categories of travelers do not receive a standard I-94 form upon entry into the United States.

Alternative Documentation for Travelers Not Requiring a Standard I-94

Certain individuals who do not need a standard I-94 travel record are required to complete alternative forms upon entry into the United States. Visitors under visa waivers must fill out Form I-94W, while flight crew members should complete Form I-95. Both forms serve purposes similar to the traditional I-94. Upon arrival, consult with a CBP Officer to determine if this applies to you.

Obtaining an I-94 Record

The process of obtaining an I-94 record varies based on your mode of entry into the U.S..

How to Receive Your I-94 When Entering the U.S. by Land

Upon entering the United States via a land border crossing, you will receive a paper I-94 card, which serves as a physical record of your entry and the terms of your stay. This card is issued at the border crossing by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Additionally, to expedite the process at the border, you have the option to pre-apply for your I-94 through the CBP's online system, which incurs a $6 fee.

How to Access Your I-94 After Entering the U.S. by Air or Sea

For those entering the U.S. by air or sea, the I-94 process is digital. Upon arrival, you will interact with a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent who will check your passport and visa, then enter your details into an electronic tracking system. This system automatically creates your electronic I-94 record. Your passport will be stamped to indicate a lawful entry into the U.S.

After this process, you will usually be given instructions on how to access your electronic I-94 online. Through the CBP’s online portal, you can view, download, or print your travel record at any time, which is useful for verifying your legal status, employment eligibility, or for administrative purposes related to your stay in the U.S.

Keeping Track of Your I-94 Form

Whether your I-94 is on paper or an electronic device, it is important to protect it. If you have a paper I-94, remember to submit it upon departing the U.S. to help the government verify your exit before your visa expires. Additionally, you might need this form for various administrative procedures, such as applying for a driver's license, securing employment, or altering your immigration status.

Key Details of Your I-94 Arrival and Departure Records

The I-94 travel records provide a detailed account of your entries and exits from the U.S., recorded via your I-94 documentation. These records encapsulate the specific dates of your arrivals and departures, including the entry and exit points, and your admission category—such as tourism or educational pursuits. Each record details the duration of authorized stay for every visit.

Your passport, stamped by a CBP agent, along with your electronic or paper I-94 form, displays your "Admit Until Date." This date indicates the maximum time you are permitted to stay in the U.S. In some cases, the CBP agent may note "Duration of Status" or "D/S" instead of a specific date, signifying that your stay is valid as long as your visa conditions are maintained.

The Importance of Your I-94 Travel Records

Your I-94 travel history holds significant importance for various reasons:

  1. It validates your legal entry into the United States for previous visits.
  2. When applying to change or adjust your immigration status, your I-94 travel history may be required as essential evidence.
  3. It can resolve discrepancies or issues in your immigration records.

Accessing Your I-94 Travel History

You can retrieve your I-94 travel history through the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) website, which typically displays the last five years of your travel history. If necessary, you can request a complete history from the website.

Additionally, if you extend your stay or adjust your status in the U.S.—for instance, by obtaining a green card—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will issue a new I-94 or alternative documents reflecting your updated status. This new documentation becomes the primary evidence of your lawful status in the U.S.

Understanding Your I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number

Upon lawful entry into the United States, the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) issues an I-94 form, assigning a unique record number to each individual. This number is specific to the particular entry and purpose of your visit to the U.S., meaning you will receive a new I-94 number with each entry. You can locate this number on either your paper I-94 card or your electronic record. This number may be required by various agencies, such as a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or by your employer for record-keeping purposes.

Should you need to replace your Form I-94, you can easily do so through the CBP website or by contacting CBP at 1-877-CBP-5511 (1-877-227-5511) from Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Previously, I-94 numbers consisted of an 11-digit numeric string. However, since May 2019, CBP has adopted an 11-character alphanumeric system, blending letters and numbers. There is no need for concern regarding this change; all unexpired I-94 forms issued under the former numeric system will remain valid up to their designated "Admit Until Date."

Cost Details for the I-94 Form

The I-94 form itself does not incur a fee, applicable whether you enter the U.S. by land, air, or sea, and irrespective of whether you receive a paper or electronic record.

If you plan to arrive at a U.S. land border, you have the option to apply online for a provisional I-94 up to one week before your arrival. This application costs $6 and is designed to expedite your entry process, helping you avoid long waits at the border.

Accessing a copy of your I-94 travel record is free if you entered the U.S. after April 2013. For entries prior to this date, you may obtain a copy by submitting Form I-102, known as the "Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document," along with a filing fee of $560.

While there is no charge for the I-94 travel record itself, the broader process of immigrating can involve substantial costs. Best of luck with your travels and immigration procedures!

Last Updated 06/12/24 01:29:28AM

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