Where Is My I-94?
By Patricia Elizee, Esq,
If you have ever gone through an immigration process in the US or if you have travelled to the United States as an immigrant, then the I-94 is not a new term to you.
In this article, we will discuss what I-94 is, who needs it, where you can find it, and all the interesting details.
What Is I-94?
Today, the I-94 is an electronic document that is issued to visitors in the process of entering the US. The document is issued by the US customs and border protection (CBP) officer. The form was formerly called the Form I-94 arrival/departure record.
With this form, records of non-citizens that are entering and leaving the United States can be easily tracked. The I-94 shows the immigrant how long their authorized stay in the United States is.
Before the year 2013, most visitors to the United States received the I-94 forms in paper formats while entering the country. On their departure, they were required to turn in the forms for confirmation of their departure from the state.
Now, with the advancements in technology, visitors no longer need to collect a paper form. They can simply use a digital form. To make the process even easier, they can use the CBP I-94 website to register in advance and skip the process of having to fill out the form while arriving at the entry of the port.
Who Needs an I-94 Form?
Most non-citizens of the United States trying to enter the country automatically receive an I-94 form.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but even for those who do not require an I-94 form, there are still other forms to fill out and other systems in place to ensure that your entry and exit are properly tracked and recorded.
Here are some non-citizens that are excluded from filling the I-94 form;
● Those entering via the Visa Waiver Program. They are required to fill out the I-94W form.
● Those entering via the Compacts of Free Association
● Those entering via Border Crossing cards
● Those entering via automatic visa revalidation
● Members of a flight crew entering the country temporarily. They are required to fill out the I-95 form.
Why You Should Look up the I-94 Form
The details in the I-94 form are entered by the border patrol officer. The border personnel complete thousands of these entries regularly. Even if, in most cases, the documents are error-free, there is still a tendency for the entries to contain a few errors.
Now, an error on your I-94 form can be consequential. For instance, if the wrong expiry date is entered, you might be charged with an Overstay.
Every time you enter the US, updates are made digitally to your I-94 form, and you cannot afford to miss rechecking the form to ensure that all is in order. Also, you should try as much as possible to avoid making errors. Errors can be corrected but will require some extra processes. If you notice an error, notify an attorney ASAP to avoid exacerbating the problem.
Where You Can Find the I-94
The I-94 form is still very actively in use. It might be hard to notice this with the use of digital forms. However, once a non-citizen is admitted into the US, the record is created online and can be accessed by National authorities via an online portal.
You can find the I-94 through their official website. Once you correctly enter all your required details, you’ll be able to access the form and see your travel records over the last five years.
The Difference Between the Visa and I-94 Dates
One major confusion that a lot of visitors face with both cards is the differences in dates. It is important to note that your visa does not necessarily expire simultaneously with your I-94. The date of expiration of the visa is how long you are able to seek entry into the United States The date of expiration of the I-94 is the date that you must depart the United States once you are legally admitted. In some instances, your I-94 may still be valid despite the expiration of your visa.
Those entering with a student visa are likely to be granted extensions on their I-94 expiry dates for a number of years depending on the school of study. In such cases, as long as all protocols are duly observed, the student’s I-94 can remain valid.
There are different conditions surrounding the dates, so be sure to check if your visa and I-94 dates are different before making conclusions.
How Much Does the I-94 Form Cost?
The I-94 form is completely free. If you want a provisional I-94, you can apply for it online for $6. It can reduce the time you spend on the borderline when you get there.
It is important to note that you should not overstay your I-94 as there could be serious consequences like getting removed from the country or getting barred from the country for 3 or more years.
For inquiries or counsel regarding immigration, contact us to schedule a consultation.