Immigration Alert: Attention International Travelers - Paper I-94s Will Be Eliminated By May 21, 2013

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Executive Summary:  The Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agency has begun gradually eliminating the paper I-94 Admission/Departure Record (known as the "I-94") at all air and sea ports of entry.  Note: travelers will still receive a paper form I-94 at land border ports of entry.  The I-94, in combination with a passport, is commonly used as a List A document for I-9 employment eligibility verification.  Therefore, after the change is fully implemented, employers can expect foreign workers to present electronic Form I-94s printed from the CBP's website as evidence of their work eligibility.   

What Is the I-94?

The I-94 Admission/Departure Record holds the key to a foreign national's stay in the United States.  The I-94, rather than a person's entry visa, determines how long the person is allowed to stay in the United States, what rules he or she must follow, whether he or she is authorized to work and, if so, for which company.  It also proves that the person was legally admitted into the United States.  The information listed on I-94s is stored in a federal electronic system called SAVE.  Employers, colleges, and federal and state agencies refer to this system to verify a person's legal status when that person seeks employment, school enrollment and federal and state benefits (such as a social security number or driver's license).

What are the Changes to the I-94 Process?

According to the new CBP procedure, a foreign traveler will no longer be asked to fill out a paper I-94 form to present to the CBP officer at the air or sea ports of entry. Instead, the CBP officer will record the traveler's arrival information electronically and put a stamp on his or her passport.  This admission stamp will contain the date of admission, class of admission (visitor, worker, etc.), and the date through which the traveler is authorized to stay in the United States.  Within 24 hours of entry into the United States, the traveler may obtain his or her I-94 printout by accessing www.CBP.gov/I94.  Before releasing the I-94 information, the website will require the person to enter family name, first name, date of birth, passport number, date of entry, and class of admission, etc.  The I-94 printout will be used by the federal government for verification of the person's employment eligibility, legal status or travel records.

By May 5, 2013, this paperless I-94 process will have been implemented at the following international airports:

  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • Las Vegas Airport
  • Chicago O'Hare Airport
  • Miami International Airport
  • Houston Bush International Airport

The CBP plans on fully implementing this new procedure at all air and sea ports of entry by May 21, 2013.  Once the paperless I-94 process is put in place, all foreign travelers who enter the United States through air and sea ports of entry will access their I-94 information online rather than relying on their physical I-94 cards stamped by the CBP.

If you have any questions regarding this Alert or other business immigration issues, please contact any member of FordHarrison's Business Immigration practice group or the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.