The Form I-94 is a vital arrival/departure document issued to all aliens seeking admission to the United States to travel. The I-94’s primary purpose is to give information to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for travelers who want to extend their stay in the United States or change their status while they are already visitors. (For example, status could change if you choose to marry a citizen of the United States). A CBP officer attaches the form to the passport of the non-immigrant visitor before they enter the United States. The date stamp indicates the date that the visitor became a US citizen. A person visiting the US from another nation is not allowed to stay longer than the I-94 allows. The alien must leave the country after the expiration date unless they are granted an extension.
The I-94 is not given out to anyone who travels to the US via air or sea with an approved ESTA. When the passport is scanned at Customs and Border Protection (CBP), it is generated automatically. A passport scan creates an electronic arrival record that contains the same data as the paper form. While it is essential to know this, you should not take any action regarding the I-94 condition when traveling to the US under an approved ESTA. You can read more about this below.
Form I-94 Automation
The I-94 was recently automated by the Department of Homeland Security (CBP) for entry at US ports. However, it is not available for land entry. While most travelers will be processed electronically, some may still receive a paper copy in exceptional circumstances. If a traveler gets a paper copy of the I-94, they must surrender it upon arrival in the United States. The new automated I-94 form correlates the traveler’s name with the air/water manifests specific to their aircraft or vessel. CBP officers scan the passport of the traveler to attach the information. This creates an electronic departure and arrival record that contains the same information as the paper I-94. Every traveler receives an admission stamp, including the admission date, class, and expiration date. The official website can be used to obtain a copy of this automated form.
Land Border Points for Entry
At land entry points to the United States, the paper form I-94 can still be used. Certain asylees, parolees, and classes of aliens are also given paper forms for entry. This decision is made by the CBP whenever it is necessary. A side note: Refugee Form I-994s can be processed electronically. You can find a copy on the CBP site.
Incorrect information about I-94
If a traveler/applicant is denied admission to the United States due to incorrect information on their I-94, they should immediately contact a local CBP office to correct the situation. These offices can be listed at www.cbp.gov under the “Ports” link. If the information on the form is incorrect, the traveler can refer to Form I102 at www.uscis.gov/forms.
Validating a Visa
CBP could validate the I-94 electronically if the I-94 were issued to the traveler via electronic means. For validation, however, the I-94 printed copy must be submitted if the traveler entered the United States before the automated system. The official website has more information on automatic revalidation.
At land entry points to the United States, the paper form I-94 can still be used. Certain asylees, parolees, and classes of aliens are also given paper forms for entry. This decision is made by the CBP whenever it is necessary. A side note: Refugee Form I-994s can be processed electronically. You can find a copy on the CBP website. This automated process will significantly speed up and validate Americans’ entry to the United States. Travel documents that are not in order are a problem. Both travelers and CBP will benefit from automated forms. They can save time, make it easier to use and have more fun while visiting the United States.