I-94 Card: Arrival-Departure Record
I-94 card is a nonimmigrant visitor's Arrival-Departure Record. Prior to April 30, 2013, any visitor holding a nonimmigrant visa and entering the U.S. through a port of entry (POE), either by air, sea or land, must complete CBP Form I-94 and present it to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during inspection. If admitted, the traveler would receive the lower portion of Form I-94 back, which was usually stapled to his/her passport. However, the I-94 process has since been streamlined and nowadays paper I-94 forms are no longer required. Instead, CBP now collects I-94 information electronically (see below for more information).
The processed I-94 card or electronic record contains vital information including your:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Date of entry
- Visa status, and
- Authorized stay
Note that U.S. citizens, green card holders, people with immigrant visas, and Canadian citizens visiting or in transit do not need to fill out a Form I-94.
Regular form I-94 is white and is used by foreign visitors holding nonimmigrant visas. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participants must use I-94W, a green form. Crewmen need to fill out Form I-95 (Landing Permit).
What is electronic I-94?
Beginning April 30, 2013 CBP no longer requires international non-immigrant visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers' arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. This automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security and reduce federal costs. The electronic I-94 process has been rolled out to the nation's airports throughout April and May of 2013.
Without a paper form I-94, you will not receive an I-94 number upon arrival. Instead, you must go to the CBP website to retrieve your I-94 number online.
Do I still need to fill out Form I-94W if I'm visiting under VWP?
If you travel by air or sea under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) and already have ESTA approval, you are not required to have an I-94W any more. You will not receive an I-94W number either. If you don't have an approved ESTA or otherwise are required to fill out the paper form I-94W, the process has been automated as mentioned above. If you enter the U.S. through a land border port you will still be required to fill out a paper form I-94W.
What if I need my I-94W number but don't have one?
The CBP website provides the following information with regard to the situation:
"If you are applying for a driver's license, and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is requiring you to have an I-94 in your passport, refer them to this Q&A, and to the above linked information."
"If you need an I-94W to obtain a benefit - such as to adjust your status due to marriage to a U.S. citizen you can contact a Deferred Inspection site (DIS). However, there are very few circumstances where a VWP traveler will qualify for benefits."
How to fill out Form I-94?
You must complete both sections of Form I-94: the top portion is your arrival record and will be retained by CBP after your admission. The bottom portion is your departure record (so-called I-94 card), which will be returned to you after inspection and must be submitted to U.S. officials when you leave the United States.
To fill out the form you will need the following information:
- Your name, DOB, Nationality, Sex (Male or Female), country of residence and Passport Number;
- Airline and Flight Number, if you flew to the US;
- The city where you boarded the flight;
- The city where your visa was issued;
- The date when your visa was issued; and
- The address where you will stay in the U.S.
CBP officials will stamp the I-94 card, and write down your immigration status and authorized period of stay, before returning it to you. See an example above.
How do I return my I-94 card?
If you are departing by air or sea, return your I-94 to the airline or shipping line during check-in. The carrier representative is supposed to annotate the back of your I-94 with your departure date and turn it to CBP.
If you are departing by land, turn your I-94 in to Canadian or Mexican authorities at the border. Please note that in most cases, if your trip to Canada or Mexico is 30 days or less, and you intend to return to the U.S., you don't have to turn in your I-94. At the end of your visit, you may re-enter the US with your I-94, and resume your authorized stay.
Due to the importance of I-94, you should keep digital scans and/or copies of all I-94 cards you ever received in a safe place.
How do I know if the airline turned in my I-94 to CBP?
This is a common concern for many passengers. Unfortunately there is not much you can do. Just remember that airline personnel have been collecting I-94 cards and delivering them to CBP for years, on a daily basis, so normally it should be OK. However, you should still keep your boarding pass and any other document that may prove your departure from the US in case a problem arises later on.
Does USCIS issue I-94 cards too?
Yes. When you extend your stay, or change your status to another nonimmigrant status while in the US, you will receive a USCIS approval notice that contains a new I-94 card. If your extension or change of status application is denied, USCIS will return the old I-94 card to you along with the rejection notice.
How to correct errors on my I-94 card?
It is critical to carefully check your I-94 card while you are still at the port of entry. If any error, such as misspelling of your name or wrong visa classification, is found on the card, contact a CBP office at the airport or border immediately. This is the easiest way to fix an I-94 error.
If you find the error after entering the US, you may contact any CBP office or deferred inspection location - it doesn't have to be the international airport or border where you entered - and request correction of the inaccurate information. You must provide sufficient documents to support your claim, obviously.
There is no official form to request error correction on CBP issued I-94 cards. There is no fee either.
For USCIS issued I-94 cards, you must contact USCIS (not CBP) to correct the problem. You may do so at your local USCIS office, by making an infopass appointment.
To replace a lost, stolen or damaged I-94 card, or apply for a new I-94 card if you were not issued one upon entry, you must file Form I-102 with USCIS. There is a $320 filing fee.
If your local USCIS office is not able to fix the error on your I-94, you also need to file Form I-102 to request correction of inaccurate information. However, the filing fee will be waived if you can demonstrate that the error(s) was made by USCIS.
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