Insight into Form I-94: A Complete Overview


Form I-94 is the gateway for your coming to the States. It is a necessary document for your immigration proceedings that displays the dates you may enter and exit the United States.

Travel-Record Form I-94: What is it?

Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, is given to certain foreign nationals by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) upon admission. Issuance of an I-94∂ travel record does not apply to American citizens, legal permanent resident visa holders, returning immigrants (SB-1 visa holders), and most Canadian tourists or transit passengers.

When USCIS approves a foreign national for a stay extension or a status change, Form I-94 may also be issued. Every non-citizen should keep track of their I-94 forms when:

  • your U.S. visa is granted.
  • you have a status adjustment while you're in the States.
  • you decided to stay longer.

Form I-94 aims to provide information on a foreign visitor's stay in the United States. Details such as departure date and admission category are included in this document. Nonetheless, it also proves a foreigner's legitimate admission into the United States. It's required for many types of immigration visas and permits.

Form I-94W

Foreign nationals entering the United States under Visa Waiver Programs are not issued Form I-94. Instead, they are provided with Form I-94W (Nonimmigrant Waiver Travel Record).

Form I-95W

Foreign flight crew members must complete Form I-95 (Crewman's Landing Permits) to enter the United States. The I-95 serves a similar function as the I-94, but this document is exclusive to the personnel of a foreign airline crew visiting the United States for a limited time.

This includes the following data:

  • dates of arrival to the U.S. 
  • dates of authorized stay or departure to the U.S. 

How Can You Find Your Travel Records?

Most I-94 arrival or departure records are available online via U.S. CBP portals. However, CBP sometimes still issues paper arrival/departure records.

An I-94 is not mandated. At land or marine ports of entry, CBP provides the electronic I-94 immediately upon arrival. With a few notable exceptions, CBP will issue a physical copy of Form I-94 to everyone who enters the country via border crossing.

Let's compare the two versions of the form.

Electronic Record of Form I-94

Travelers entering the United States by air or sea have been automatically given an e-Form I-94 by U.S. Customs since 2013. This electronic I-94 is issued to the airline, not the passenger. You must visit the CBP website to get a copy of your electronic arrival or departure records on form I-94. You may get a hard copy for your files by printing it.

The website also has a comprehensive 10-year archive of passenger arrivals and departures. The trip log is a reference rather than a legal document.

Paper Record of Form I-94

Until May 2013, all international guests were issued a paper form I-94 travel document. In some circumstances, however, CBP still issues paper I-94 forms.

Only airports and seaports issue electronic Form I-94 arrival or departure records; land border crossings continue to issue paper Form I-94. To this day, CBP still issues paper Forms I-94 to refugees, some asylees, and parolees, and others where CBP deems it necessary.

To expedite entry into the U.S., travelers can submit their biographic data and travel details and pay the $6 I-94 application fee up to one week before their arrival. As soon as their application and fee are processed, a temporary I-94 will be issued.

Anatomy of Form I-94

The arrival/departure record is vital since it captures essential details about a foreign national's visit to the United States. This data is crucial for determining the duration of their legal stay and maintaining their legal status. 

The following highlighted fields are often necessary for many immigration benefit applications. A printable version of the sample Form I-94 is available on the CBP's portal.

Admission Record Number. It's an 11-character alphanumeric code that serves as your I-94 unique number. It's also referred to as your Admission or Departure number. 

Most Recent Entry/Arrival. This date must accurately represent the day you entered the U.S. If your inspection took place outside of the U.S., this date may differ from the day you actually entered the country.

Admission Category. Your classification as a non-immigrant is shown by this code. It may say "B-2" for "leisure guest" or "F-1" for "student," for instance.

Authorized Stay End Date. This is the last day you may enter the United States legally. U.S. departure before the Admit Till Date is required. This term, abbreviated as "D/S," refers to the time an exchange visitor or a student's allowed to stay in the country. This is the last day to apply for any other kind of visa. And for all other types of visas, this is a firm and final deadline.

Troubleshooting I-94 Issues

What should I do if my record can't be found on the CBP site?

Do you need help finding your electronic I-94 record on the CBP's I-94 website? Never fret; consider using the U.S. Immigration Lawyers Association's suggested troubleshooting tips below:

  • Type the full name as it appears on your passport (i.e., passport). If unsuccessful, attempt different name variations using your visa or the submitted Form DS-160 (if applicable). Enter the name as it appears on the various forms.
  • Fill out the First Name section with the given and middle names. Put a space between your first and middle names (if you have them) and enter them into the first name area. Don't worry if the visa or passport has no middle name field; just add it.
  • If that fails, try reversing the order of names. While filling out the online form, reverse the order of the surname and first name. Passport names in some nations often appear as first and last names. However, the reverse is also true in certain cases. Because of this, the CBP database can include an inaccurate spelling of the passenger's name.
  • You may enter multiple first or last names without separating them with commas. Do not put a space between a person's first and last name if you have two. Type "Mary Jane" as "Maryjane," for instance.
  • Look for duplicate passport numbers. Verify the Passport Number on Form DS-160 (if one is available). If the passport numbers shown on Form DS-160 are different from the ones used for admission, enter the passport number listed there. Verify the visa's mentioned passport number as well. You must use the passport number shown on the visa, even if it does not match the number on your current passport.
  • If the year is already part of the passport number, leave it blank. Since certain passport numbers start with the passport's issuance year, they may be too lengthy to fit in the appropriate field of CBP's automated system. If it is necessary to do so, try inputting the number excluding the year. For instance, the first digit of a Mexican passport number may be "08," followed by nine more digits, indicating that the passport was issued in 2008. So try removing the 08, enter your passport number again, and see whether it works. The newest Mexican passports should be fine since they do not start with the year.
  • Verify that the visa's assigned classification matches the stamp of entrance in the passport. There may be a tiny discrepancy, which may not match exactly. Try out both labels and see which one works. If an E-3 dependent is traveling on a visa that reads "E-3D," their entrance stamp just reads "E-3," this is an example of the discrepancy. The categorization could be ambiguous on the electronic I-94.

If you still cannot access your e-I-94 records after making the attempts mentioned above, you should contact or go to CBP's Deferred Inspection Offices. There have been several instances of guests who never received a record throughout the years. Get in touch with CBP and let them know when you're flying in. Although some non-citizens may have their issues resolved by calling their local Deferred Inspection Office, others may need to come in person.

Fixing Mistakes on a Form I-94

Changing an inaccurate I-94 form is usually possible. When the name is misspelled, or the entry date is entered incorrectly, it can confuse when completing other applications. Both CBP and USCIS can issue Form I-94, Arrival or Departure Record. Whether there was an error on your part or the government's, it must be rectified.

Amend Errors on an I-94 Provided by CBP

You can visit the nearest Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deferred Inspection Office if CBP issued your I-94 record. Most non-citizens enter the country and get an I-94 from CBP using any of the following means.

  • Electronic I-94: Often given out at airports and seaports to most non-U.S. travelers.
  • Paper I-94: Paper forms are given out via land border crossings to certain categories of foreigners (such as refugees, some asylees, and parolees) and wherever CBP deems them necessary.

CBP has issued erroneous I-94s on occasion. Incorrect entry dates and misspelled names are two of the most common examples. These mistakes are usually simple to fix. Once you arrive at the airport, you may contact the CBP office to get your paperwork amended.

If there is no CBP office at your airport, please call CBP at 1-877-CBP-5511 or visit the nearest CBP Inspection Site (1-877-227-5511). If your I-94 record must be corrected, you may need to bring supporting documents (passport, visa) to the appropriate government agency.

Rectify an Inaccurate I-94 Provided by USCIS

In certain instances, USCIS may provide a Form I-94 in conjunction with granting a visa renewal or a status change to a foreign national. If USCIS gave your Form I-94, you must complete and submit Form I-102.

A valid filing fee and accompanying documents showing the right information must be included when submitting Form I-102 to rectify an inaccurate I-94 record. Please provide a signed and dated declaration detailing the inaccuracies in your I-94 record. You should also provide proof supporting its accuracy if submitting information for correction. Lastly, your original, inaccurate I-94 must be submitted along with your I-102 application. 

If USCIS made the error on your Form I-94, schedule an Infopass appointment at the nearest USCIS office to request a corrected I-94 issued. Call 1-800-375-5283 to set up a consultation.

Don't forget to bring your original, erroneous I-94 record and proof of the mistake to your scheduled appointment. The I-94 may be updated at no expense by USCIS. If you cannot provide evidence that USCIS committed a mistake, you will be instructed to submit Form I-102 along with a fee.

Requesting a Replacement I-94 Travel Record

Form I-94, the Arrival or Departure Record, may be replaced if lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed. Knowing in advance if your I-94 is digital or paper can help you get started. This information is useful for figuring out how to get a new I-94 card. A lost electronic I-94 may be easily replaced. However, the process can take months and often costs money (filing fee).

Replacing an Electronic Arrival/Departure Record

A modern I-94 Travel Record may be obtained online whether the foreign national went by air or sea. You may get an electronic form I-94 by visiting the CBP I-94 webpage.

It's simple and free to "replace" an electronic I-94 form. You may search for your I-94 by visiting the CBP website and entering the required information. The electronic form I-94 may be printed and included in applications submitted to USCIS.

Replacing a Paper Arrival/Departure Record

Arriving foreign nationals used to get paper I-94 forms from CBP before the data were made available online. CBP still issues form I-94 in paper at land border crossings and to specific categories of foreigners, including refugees, some asylees, and parolees, and wherever CBP deems it acceptable to do so. The arrival/departure paper form is known as "Form I-94A."


Does Form I-94 Serve as a Visa?

Don't confuse your I-94 for a visa. They are similar yet distinct in certain ways.

A visa is a required travel document. Your visa must be valid for U.S. entry. In contrast, your I-94 is your proof of status (arrival and departure record). It indicates your legal status in the United States (visa or parole) and the maximum time you may be permitted to stay. The visa dates do not determine a foreign national visitor's stay in the United States. 

Instead, the primary legal document is the I-94. 

Is It Common for an I-94 Record Not to Be Given When Entering with a Mexican Border Crossing Card?

When Mexican citizens use a border crossing card to enter the United States, they are not often issued I-94 forms. But, if your journey into the United States will take you farther than the normal 25 miles, you may request one.

Is Form I-94 Necessary When Filing for Permanent Resident Status Adjustment?

Form I-94 is essential for most adjustments of status applications, as it proves lawful entry and status. If you cannot find your I-94, you can request a replacement. Incorrect I-94 records can often be updated, and alternative evidence for your legal entry is acceptable when an I-94 is unavailable.

Does the I-94 Expire?

It is important to note that I-94 forms can expire, so double-check that you are referencing the accurate date. You may find three different dates listed on your electronic I-94:

(OMB) Form Expiration Date. The OMB form expiration date is in the top right corner. An expired OMB date does not invalidate the I-94 record or form and is unrelated to a nonimmigrant's status in the U.S.

Most Recent Dates of Arrival/Entry. As the name implies, this is your latest arrival date on which you entered the United States.

Admit til Date. This date is vital as it signifies the expiration of your status. It is typically noted as "D/S'' (Duration of Status) for students and exchange visitors, while other visa classifications have a specific end date. Therefore, leaving by this date is necessary to comply with your status.

How Much is the I-94? 

The I-94 document does not cost anything. It holds true whether you arrive by car, plane, or boat and whether your record is paper or digital. 

The form is free and readily available from the government.

If you plan to enter the country via a land port, you may apply for a temporary I-94 online up to seven days before your scheduled arrival. There is a $6 fee to apply for a temporary I-94, but doing so will shorten your time at the border and expedite your arrival procedure.

Last Updated 05/25/23 05:53:03AM

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