Form-I-94. What it is it and why is it important? The Form I-94 is a vital arrival/departure document issued to aliens who seek admission to the United States for travel purposes. The primary function of the I-94 is to provide information to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for those travelers who wish to extend their stay while visiting the United States or adjust his/her status while already a visitor in the US (for example, status would change if you chose to marry a US citizen). The form itself is usually attached to the non-immigrant visitor’s passport by a CBP officer before entering the United States, with a date stamp noting the date the traveler became a US visitor. Someone visiting the US from another country is only allowed to stay for the duration indicated on the I-94. After the departure date has expired, the alien must leave the country unless he/she receives an extension.
It is important to note that when you travel to the US with an approved ESTA via air and sea, the I-94 is not handed out. It is automatically generated when the passport is scanned by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when entering the United States of America. The passport scan generates an electronic arrival record with the same data records that are required in the paper form. It is good to be aware of this, but no action should be necessary pertaining to the I-94 Form when traveling to the US with an approved ESTA. More on this below.
Form I-94 Automation
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security and US Customs Border Protection (CBP) automated the I-94 exclusively for use at air and sea ports of entry to the United States, however, not for land entry. Most travelers will be processed via the automated system but some, under special circumstances, may still be given the paper form. However, if a traveler does receive a paper copy of the I-94, the document must be surrendered upon entry to the United States. With the new automated form, I-94 information correlates with the traveler’s name via the air/water manifests for his/her particular airplane or water vessel. The information is attached by the CBP officer scanning the traveler’s passport, which generates an electronic arrival and departure record, containing the same information found on the previously used paper I-94. Each traveler is provided an admission stamp including the date of admission, class, and the expiration date of his/her allowed visit. If the traveler needs a copy of the automated form, he/she may obtain a copy via the official website.
Land Border Points of Entry
The paper form I-94 is still being employed at land points of entry to the United States. Paper forms are also provided to certain asylees, parolees, and classes of aliens for entry with this determination being made by the CBP wherever they feel it is appropriate and needed. As an aside, Refugee Form I-94s are processed electronically and a copy can be found on the CBP website.
Incorrect information on I-94
If an unfortunate situation arises where the traveler/applicant is admitted to the United States with incorrect information on his/her I-94, the traveler should visit a local CBP office to get the information corrected as soon as possible. The “Ports” link located at the bottom of the page at www.cbp.gov offers a list of these offices. Additionally, if the form contains incorrect information, the traveler should refer to Form I-102, which is located at www.uscis.gov/forms.
Revalidating a Visa
If the traveler was given an I-94 via electronic means, CBP will have this information and can revalidate the I-94 automatically. If, however, a traveler entered the United States before this automated system, the paper copy of the I-94 must be submitted for validation. More information about automatic revalidation can be found at the official website.
The paper form I-94 is still being employed at land points of entry to the United States. Paper forms are also provided to certain asylees, parolees, and classes of aliens for entry with this determination being made by the CBP wherever they feel it is appropriate and needed. As an aside, Refugee Form I-94s are processed electronically and a copy can be found on the CBP website. This new automated process will certainly aid in expediting and validating the entry processes of travelers visiting the United States. Being held up with travel documents is an unwelcome travel issue. Automating forms certainly helps both travelers and the CBP in time savings, ease of use, and accuracy allowing a more relaxed visit to the United States.