What is I-94 Form?
The U.S. has very strict entry-exit tracking procedures and keeps track of temporary immigrants, visa overstays, and other relevant information through their entry-exit systems. I-94 is a record of arrival and departure of visitors (non-US citizens and non-US permanent residents) entering the US.
Earlier, under the paper I-94 system, visitors were required to fill the form I-94, and a CBP officer at the Port of Entry (POE) would have recorded the entry and authorized the period of stay. At the time of departure, the visitors would have had to surrender the paper I-94 to show that they left US before their period of stay expired. Now the entry-exit system has changed to paperless electronic I-94.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unit began implementing paperless I-94 & I-94w from April 30, 2013. This means international visitors traveling to USA by sea or by air will no longer have to fill out the paper-based I-94 form at the port of entry. All arrival and departure information will be gathered electronically and made available at http://www.cbp.gov/I94. CBP has also automated the I-94w process for visitors travelling to the USA on Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
How does the automated I-94 Arrival/Departure Record process work?
CBP officer at the port of entry will create an electronic I-94 record utilizing advanced traveler information from Department of Homeland Security, Department of State systems, and the air or sea carriers. At the time of departure, CBP will record the departure based on information from the carrier. This automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security, reduce federal cost and save travelers time.
Do the visitors have to do anything different now?
Electronic I-94 system will not impact the travelers in any way. In fact, the automated arrival/departure record process will expedite the process of entry and exit for visitors and save time for travelers. CBP will continue to stamp the visitors passport and annotate the admission stamp with the date of entry, the visa class, and the duration of admission. The visitors will be given a flier at the time of admission explaining how to access their electronic I-94 record.
What happens during arrival at the port of entry?
When the visitors arrive in US, at the CBP, the officer will scan traveler's passport and create an electronic record of arrival with the data found on the current paper-based form I-94. The travelers can access their I-94 at http://www.cbp.gov/I94.
What if I need a printed copy of my I-94?
If you need a physical copy of your I-94 to apply for a drivers license, state ID or social security card then you can print a copy of your I-94 by accessing CBP website. You will have to key in your biometrics like Name, Date of Birth, passport number, country of issuance, date of entry and class of admission to access your I-94 electronically.
What happens at the time of exit?
The exit process is simple. Visitors, who were issued a paper I-94 form, must surrender it to the commercial carrier or CBP upon departure. If an electronic I-94 was created for you at the time of arrival, CBP will obtain the information from the carrier and note your departure for their records. You do not have to submit any document to CBP to prove that you left US before your valid period of stay was over.
Does the automated I-94 process apply to all the visitors?
No. Since the automated entry is only applicable to travelers arriving in the USA by sea or by air, CBP will continue to issue paper I-94 form at land borders ports of entry.
What happens to the people who entered the USA before this process was implemented and have a paper I-94 form?
For people who entered the USA before this process was implemented and have a paper-based I-94 form, they must return their I-94 form to the commercial carrier or CBP before leaving the country.
The United States welcomes and encourages temporary workers from other nations. In pursuance of larger goals, the country has developed a set of rules and regulations governing the entry and exit of non immigrant foreign nationals who work for a temporary period of time. The officials are very strict about the entry-exit procedures. The I-94 form is a tool to ensure your smooth arrival and departure. Protect your I-94 and abide by the rules and regulations of immigration to the U.S.