For years, visitors entering the U.S. have completed forms on arrival, and a small portion of the form is then stapled into their passport. The Form I-94 Arrival Departure Cards reflected a visitor’s class of admission (the visa status granted during admission) and approved duration of stay. Beginning April 30, 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will no longer issue Forms I-94 during admission.
Instead, CBP will stamp passports and handwrite on the stamp the port of entry, date of entry, class of admission and expiration of stay (the last day the person is authorized to be in the U.S.). Visa holders wanting a formal document confirming the details of their admission must go to www.cbp.gov/I94 to print a copy of the electronic record of admission by inputting the following data: their name (exactly as it appears on their visa stamp, or passport bio page if visa-exempt), their date of entry, citizenship, the passport number from the passport they presented during admission and class of admission. The information must be entered correctly to access the electronic record. The electronic record will be required by Fermilab.
As explained below, Fermilab’s Visa Office strongly recommends that visa holders:
The new procedure will be implemented in stages. O’Hare International Airport will be among the first to be affected, with all other U.S. air ports-of-entry completed by the end of May, 2013. Affected visa holders will include people with A-2, F-1, F-2, H-1B, H-3, H-4, J-1, J-2, TN and other visas that authorize work, research or studies in the U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (‘greencard holders”) are not affected. Paper I-94 forms still will be issued at some land borders and for less common visa classes.
Elimination of the Form I-94 means that visitors will not immediately know how CBP has recorded their arrival and/or departure in its database, and thus limits their ability to correct errors that occur at time of admission. Errors within the CBP database could potentially have significant consequences for the visa holder.
Data in the online CBP system is primarily drawn from (1) a Department of State database listing information from the person’s visa stamp, if the person has a visa, or from the passport bio page if they are visa-exempt, and (2) the airline manifest for the passenger. The CBP-generated data in the online system is limited to the current admission: date and place of entry, and class and expiration of admission. The electronic record will be available to visa holders “shortly” after admission and will cease to be available when the system records a departure from the U.S.
With the elimination of the Form I-94, the tracking number assigned each time a visitor is admitted to the U.S. is revealed only in the online electronic record. The “I-94 Arrival Departure Number” is the 9-digit number followed by 2 more digits currently listed at the top of the I-94. It is the unique identifier for the visit and often must be referenced in applications and petitions for benefits, such as for Social Security Numbers, extensions of stay or for lawful permanent residence status.
The electronic record is the permanent record of your admission. If there is an error in the electronic record, it must be corrected to prevent problems from arising during future admissions. These corrections generally are done in CBP offices. At O’Hare, the CBP office is in the lower level of Terminal 5. The CBP in other locations might direct requests for corrections to stand-alone offices outside of the local airports.
CBP plans to track departures using airline flight manifests but in certain cases departures might not be recognized by its new system. Significant legal consequences can arise if a visa holder appears to have remained in the U.S. past the expiration of their authorized stay. The three steps listed above should enable visa holders to ensure and verify that departures are recorded.
If any employee, user or contractor at Fermilab has questions about the I-94 Automation/Elimination, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.