Recent statistics have shown how US has had an upsurge in foreign visitors and this seems to be an ever-growing number. Since all visitors coming by air or sea have to have their travel information recorded into the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) system in the form of I-94, these numbers are quickly depleting. The CBP is in need of new combinations and as a long-term solution for the creation of new I-94 coded numbers, has announced a new format to the I-94 that is going into immediate effect this month.
Form I-94 is vital for travelers visiting the US. CBP assists every temporary traveler if he has to apply for or retrieve an existing Form I-94, request his travel history and/or check travel compliance. The I-94 arrival/departure record has all this information.
How is the new I-94 different?
While the earlier I-94 format had 11 digits and only contained numerals, the new version is switching to alphanumeric I-94s. The total still remains 11 but will have a letter interjected in the 10th place. This new format has gone into effect this month and is applicable only to new I-94s issued to new visitors entering the US port of entry. The CBP clarified that this does not affect previously issued I-94 records which remain valid until the ‘Admit Until Date’ reflected in the electronic version on the I-94 website or in some cases, printed on the passport. In addition, any pending applications for a change in information or request for an extension will follow the older format.
Why is it important that US visitors on B2 visa know about the new Form I-94?
Today all visitors to the US coming in either via air or sea have to have their entry and departure travel information recorded into the CBP system. This happens either automatically and/or electronically and consequently, each traveler is given an I-94 record number.
- It is a critical piece of travel information and forms an integral part of every B2 Visitors travel document. The onus of ensuring this is accurate lies on the temporary US visitor. In order to verify immigration status or employment authorization, this is vital.
- Moreover, it is important to ensure every US visitor has a valid passport in order to ensure the authorized period of stay in the US recorded in the I-94 coincides with passport validity. Else this time period may get negatively affected.
- Lastly, it is important to confirm that the period of stay permitted on the I-94 matches the dates issued on both the B2 visa as well as the relevant employment-based petition, if applicable. Assuming it coincides could lead to overstaying of visa or even illegal stay.
For more information on I-94, visit FAQs on I-94. This would also cover ground on how to fix mistakes on I-94s.