The U.S. Customs and Border Protection published a rule in March 2013 to automate the issuance of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record by making it acceptable to do away with paper I-94 cards and make the arrival/departure record electronic. The electronic I-94 process applies only to foreign nationals arriving to the U.S. by air and sea and does not apply to foreign nationals seeking admission at a land border crossing. Beginning on April 30, 2013, CBP will start implementing the paperless I-94 system at air and sea ports of entry. Therefore, this rule will start immediately impacting foreign nationals in a temporary work status that depart the U.S. and return via sea or air. Although individuals will not be provided a paper I-94 card when entering the U.S., the foreign national will still receive a stamp in his/her passport with the admission category and date that his/her stay will expire. That stamp can be used to show when someone was admitted and when their status expires. To print out a paper copy of an I-94 document the traveler can go to the following site to get a print the information regarding his/her admission: www.cbp.gov/I94. The purpose of automating the I-94 document is to streamline admissions and improve the process and cut costs for CBP.
FAQ for some travelers:
Question: I am currently working in the U.S. pursuant to H-1B status and will be returning to my home country for a family vacation. While in my home country I receive an updated H-1B visa in my passport. When returning to the U.S. by air to work for my H-1B employer I enter the U.S. with my valid passport, H-1B visa, and approval notice. Will this new rule impact me?
ANS: Yes, the new rule will impact you since you are entering by air. Previously you were required to fill out a paper I-94 card that would be presented to a CBP inspector when seeking admission to the U.S. Now, the I-94 card will not need to be completed. You will proceed to inspections and will present your valid passport, H-1B visa and approval notice. The CBP officer will inspect the documents and stamp the passport with the date of entry and put an expiration date on your passport. The CBP officer will also update the computer system with your arrival information so that you can print an paper copy of your record of admission and expiration at the following site: www.cbp.gov/I94.
Question: I am a foreign national with a temporary work visa and will be traveling to Mexico for a short visit. Upon return I will be entering the U.S. at a land port of entry since I am not taking a flight to my location in Mexico. Will the new rule impact me?
ANS: No, the new rule will not impact you since you are entering the U.S. at a land port of entry. You will still need to either complete a paper I-94 card or present a valid I-94 card if you are traveling pursuant to the automatic visa revalidation rule. The same procedure would apply as prior visits in the past when entering at a land port of entry.
Question: I am currently in the U.S. pursuant to lawful admission in a temporary work status. Since my last admission was after April 30, 2013, I did not receive a paper I-94 card when entering the U.S. pursuant to the new automation rule. I have new employment and need to present a valid document for the employer to verify my employment eligibility. In the past I had presented my passport and I-94 document evidencing my temporary work status. What should I do now?
ANS: Since you did not receive an I-94 card when entering the U.S. you will need to go to CBP’s website to print out a copy of the I-94 arrival/departure record so that you have the I-94 number to provide to your employer to assist in verification of work permission. You can print a copy of your arrival record (Form I-94) at the following site: www.cbp.gov/I94.