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With constant changes to travel regulations and sheaves of documents to keep track of, the one thing visitors to the USA have to keep in mind is ensuring their Form I-94 is accurate and accessible when needed. While the I-94 has been made electronic, we will discuss how to get a copy of the I-94, if needed, when starting your green card or naturalization applications.
When you arrive into the United States of America as a temporary visitor, A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has to notate your date of entry and future date of exit in to an electronic tracking system. Your passport and visa is accessed by him to determine these dates.
If you enter the U.S. by sea or by air lawfully, you will receive an electronic I-94 record whereas the CBP officer stamps your passport with the travel information if you enter by land. You will also receive a paper format of the I-94 card if you entered by land.
The I-94 will have dates of arrival (each time you enter the U.S.) and dates of departure (each time you exit the U.S.).
Foreign visitors to the U.S. arriving by land are always issued a paper format of the I-94 travel document. It is a small white card that the CBP officer attaches to a visitor’s passport.
Alternately, if you want to avoid standing in the long lines at the port of entry, you can apply online for a provisional I-94 one week or less before your arrival date.
Applying for a provisional I-94 costs $6.
Related Article: How To Fill Out An I-94 Form?
The I-94 is returned to the CBP officer on the completion of the visit to ensure that the visitor exited the U.S. before his visa expired.
For those U.S. visitors arriving by air or sea, you will automatically be issued with an electronic I-94 travel record upon arrival. This is supported by a stamp in your passport to prove you entered the country legally.
If you need to access your electronic I-94 travel records either to verify when you are supposed to exit the country or for other immigration purposes, you can view, download and print a copy of the I-94 using the CBP’s online system.
When entering the country, certain ports of entry also supply every visitor with printed instructions on how to access your electronic I-94 from the online government portal.
The I-94 is free of charge in any format - be it for electronic or paper format, and whether you are arriving by land, air, or sea.
Getting the I-94 before your arrival at a U.S. port of entry is also not charged. This is applicable if you entered the United States after April 2013.
For travel date records prior to April 2013, you have to submit Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document for a fee of $445.
The I-94 is a critical piece of travel information and forms an integral part of every B2 visitor’s travel document. The onus of ensuring this is accurate lies on the US visitor.
If there’s an error in your I-94 travel record, or find that the information therein is incomplete you’ll need to contact USCIS to rectify it. You may either visit your local USCIS office, or call them at 1-800-375-5283 for detailed process.
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. Not having the correct travel entry and exit dates could lead to overstaying of visa or even illegal stay. This can lead to penalties of over 10-year entry bans.
Also Read: FAQs regarding your Form I-94