JUNE 2013
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Immigration

Elimination of I-94 for Air and Sea Arrivals CommencES

Dilip Patel

By DILIP PATEL

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has automated Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, for all air and sea arrivals — not land border port of entry arrivals — eliminating the paper Form I-94. The new process went into effect on April 30. The following is a description of the new automated admissions process and some key issues.

Electronic Record

CBP will no longer require international nonimmigrants to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. This automation is designed to streamline the entry process, facilitate security, and reduce federal costs. CBP estimates that it will save more than $15 million a year. Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper Form I-94 at land border ports of entry.

The roll-out was phased in through end of May; thus, nonimmigrants will continue to receive the paper Form I-94 until the automated process arrives at their airport or other port of entry.

Passport Stamp

Under the new process, CBP will issue an admission stamp in the passports of arriving nonimmigrants, as is current practice. The admitting CBP officer will make a handwritten notation indicating the status and authorized period of stay, similar to procedures used for travelers under the Visa Waiver Program. An electronic record for the arriving individual will be created upon admission. This admission (or parole) stamp in a foreign passport will constitute evidence of alien registration as required under regulation. (Individuals without a foreign passport will be sent to CBP’s secondary inspection upon arrival into the U.S., where they will receive their electronic I-94 number. These individuals will be issued a paper I-94 with the pre-printed number crossed out, and the actual electronic I-94 number handwritten upon it.)

Computer Access to Arrival Record

Following automation, arriving nonimmigrants will be given a slip of paper directing them to www.CBP.gov/I94, a new CBP Web page where individuals can view and verify the class and term of their admission in its electronic format. In order to access a given individual’s record of admission, seven data points will be needed, including name, passport number, date of admission, and port of admission. The Web portal allows nonimmigrants to print an admission record receipt. This data is expected to be accessible within about 24 hours of admission and available at any time.

Departing the U.S.

Individuals will not need to do anything differently upon exiting the United States. Those issued a paper Form I-94 would surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP upon departure. The departure will be recorded electronically with manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP. If the individual did not receive a paper Form I-94, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP.

Correcting Errors

If an applicant was admitted incorrectly to the U.S., the applicant should visit a local CBP Deferred Inspection Site or port of entry to have his or her admission corrected. A list of Deferred Inspection Sites and ports of entry can be found at www.cbp.gov, under the “Ports” link at the bottom of the page. If an applicant received an incorrect I-94 from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the applicant should refer to Form I-102 available at www.uscis.gov/i-102.

Land Arrivals and Other Exceptions

Nonimmigrants arriving by land and certain classes of foreign nationals, such as refugees, asylum applicants, and parolees, will continue to receive paper Form I-94. Information gathered by CBP when issuing a Form I-94 at a land border already is automatically uploaded to the CBP database.

Other Considerations

While there appears to be no legal reason compelling a nonimmigrant to print and keep a copy of Form I-94 from the CBP website, nonimmigrants who will need to demonstrate their class and term of admission for any ancillary purpose (e.g., I-9 employment eligibility verification, driver’s license application, Social Security number application) will need to print a copy of their admission record.

At least initially, air- and seaport arrivals will continue to have the option to request a paper Form I-94 to document their class and term of admission. Both common carriers and CBP are expected to continue making paper forms available upon request. Nonimmigrants who do not have ready access to a computer and printer should avail themselves of this option. CBP officers may also issue the paper I-94 in their discretion. Information from paper Forms I-94 will be manually entered into the CBP database.

At least one benefit for the nonimmigrant is the elimination of the need to file for a replacement I-94 and pay a $330 fee to replace a lost record of admission.

Dilip Patel of Shutts & Bowen LLP, a Florida Bar board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at
(813) 227-8178 or e-mail
dpatel@shutts.com

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