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No more paper ‑based arrival/departure record (form I‑94)

Whenever a non-immigrant arrives in the US by air or sea, he or she usually fills out a white arrival/departure record, called a Form I ‑ 94, and presents it to the immigration officer at the air or sea port. The officer then tears off the bottom portion of the form, stamps it with the type of entry visa (i.e. visitor, student, worker, etc.) and the length of time the person is allowed to stay in the US for that particular trip. The I ‑94 is then stapled to a page of the passport, and upon departure, the person must turn in that form to the airline, so that his or her timely departure is properly recorded.

Recently, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that starting April 30, 2013, the CBP will no longer require nonimmigrant travelers to fill out a paper form I ‑94 upon arrival in the US. Instead, CBP will scan the person’s travel document (usually a passport), which has a barcode at the bottom, that contains the information needed by the officer. The officer will then stamp a page of the person’s passport, showing the date of admission, class admission (type of visa), and the date that the traveler is admitted until. Upon departing the US, the person will no longer be required to turn in the I-94 to the airline.

The CBP hopes that with this new automated system, it will “streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security, and reduce federal costs”. If nonimmigrants still want a “paper copy” of their I-94, they will be directed to a CBP website, where they can print out a copy of their arrival/departure information.

An I-94, or information about a person’s arrival in the US can be very important in connection with future immigration benefits, such as extension of status, adjustment of status, or the like. Many people seeking to adjust status in the US run into problems when they can no longer locate their I ‑ 94, and have “lost” their entry passport, and therefore cannot prove that they were “inspected” and/or “admitted” into the US.

With this new automated system, the record of their trips to the US will now be on a website. For anyone coming to the US, it is very important that you keep and maintain records of your trips and entries into the US, as they always come into play whenever seeking immigration benefits.

For those coming to the US after April 30, 2013, this new automated system should help. For those who are already in the US and lost their I ‑ 94, or need to prove that they were inspected (versus entering the US without inspection), you may want to seek the advice of an attorney, who can evaluate your situation, and see if you are eligible to obtain a green card in the US, such as through a love marriage to a US citizen, or the like.

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