Q: I heard that the government is changing the I-94 form requirement for travelers to the US. What’s happening with this form? How will I be able to prove that I entered the US legally in the future?
A: Starting on April 30th of this year, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will no longer require travelers to US ports of entry by air or sea, with the exception of certain refugees, asylees, and parolees, to fill out the paper I-94 arrival/departure form. Instead, CBP will maintain an electronic record based on the information collected by the air or sea carrier prior to departure. The paper I-94 form will continue to be used at land border crossings for the time being.
Travelers will be able to print a copy of the electronic record from www.cbp.gov/I94 as needed, such as when filling out forms for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that currently require a copy of the paper I-94 form, or when establishing employment eligibility with an employer.
Note that this rule change does not affect travelers under the Visa Waiver Program, as CBP did away with the I-94W form requirement in 2010.
The change will eliminate the hassle of filling out the paper form, and it also will have an economic benefit for many. Currently some 17,000 people annually file applications with USCIS to replace lost I-94 cards, which costs $330. Now there will be no card to lose, and the paper record will be available from the web site at any time and at no charge. Those already in the US and in possession of a paper I-94 form should, however, be careful to retain it.
If you have questions about any other aspect of immigration law, you can have a free, confidential consultation at one of our legal clinics advertised weekly in the Emigrant.
Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State frequently amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of an IIIC immigration specialist or an immigration lawyer.