What Is Form I-94 (Proof of Legal Visitor Status), and How Do I Obtain One?

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What is Form I-94 (proof of legal visitor status), and How do I obtain one?

Introduction 

You must not be amazed if you are stopped at the US port of entry and issued an I-94 Form. The DHS issues the I-94 form to foreign visitors upon their arrival to keep track of the entrance and departure of such foreign visitors. This article will provide an overview of Form I-94. 

What is Form I-94?

I-130 with Provisional Waiver

The I-94 form is used to maintain track of non-citizens entering and departing the United States. It’s a crucial document since it verifies that you entered the country legally and specifies the deadline by which you must leave.

The Department of Homeland Security issues Form I-94 to aliens: 

  • who are admitted to the United States; or
  • who are adjusting status while in the United States; or 
  • who is extending their stay?

When a non-immigrant tourist enters the United States, a CBP officer usually attaches the I-94 to their passport. The visitor must leave the United States on or before the date marked on the I-94. The date is called “admit Until Date” on the electronic Form I-94. 

Who needs an I-94 Form?

Most foreign visitors who are visiting the US are issued a Form I-94 upon arrival. US citizens and lawful permanent residence in the US are not issued Form I-94. Other exceptions may include foreign visitors entering the country using Border Crossing Cards, the Visa Waiver Program, or the Compact of Free Association or entering temporarily as part of an airline flight crew.

What is the automation of Form I-94? 

US Customs and Border Protection(CBP) has automated Form I-94 in May 2013 at air and seaports of entry to improve efficiency, save operational costs, and expedite the admissions process. This means that new I-94 forms will be issued electronically, and the traditional paper-based forms will no longer be available to foreign visitors upon arrival, except in certain circumstances. However, foreign visitors coming to the US through land entry will still receive paper Form I-94, and automation does not affect land entries. 

How do I obtain an I-94 Card?

Aliens who are traveling to the US by air or sea will be issued an electronic I-94 travel record upon arrival by a CBP officer. They will put a stamp in your passport indicating that you have entered the US lawfully. The paper version of the I-94 entrance form — a little white card linked to a visitor’s passport is still given to foreign tourists arriving via land. When departing the United States, it’s critical to remember to hand in your paper I-94. This is the main way the US government will monitor your departure and know that you departed before your visa expired.

What impact does the new I-94 automation have on international passengers’ entrance into the United States?

Form I-94 automation will not affect a traveler’s ability to enter the United States. CBP will continue to produce I-94 records for all travelers who require them, but the paper form will be replaced by an electronic version and will not be given to the traveler. Travelers can print the electronic version of their Form I-94 at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94.

Will CBP still issue a paper Form I-94 once the automation begins?

Instead of issuing a paper Form I-94, CBP will scan a traveler’s passport and generate an electronic arrival record including the same data components as the present paper Form I-94. The electronic I-94 will be available at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94. Travelers can print their electronic I-94 number from this website before filing for any immigration or public benefits like a driver’s license or a social security number.

Because automation only affects air and marine arrivals, land border ports of entry continue to use paper Form I-94s. CBP continues issuing paper Form I-94 to specific groups of aliens, such as certain asylees and parolees, and whenever it deems necessary.

Can I apply for I-94 before arrival in the US? 

CBP allows passengers arriving at a land port of entry to apply for and pay for their I-94 online before arriving in the US. Travelers can expedite their entrance into the United States by completing biographic and travel information online and paying $6 as their I-94 application fee. Travelers can apply up to seven days before their entry. 

Does I-94 expire? 

Almost every document connected to immigration in the United States has an expiration date beyond which it becomes invalid. Form I-94 is no different and is issued with an expiry date. Travelers should clarify the date stamped in the I-94 form before or on such date they have to leave the US unless they get their I-94 extended. 

What if you stay past your I-94 expiration? 

Obtaining an I-94 extension is required if you desire to stay in the United States for some time longer than initially planned. If you continue in the United States after your I-94 has expired, your visa status will most likely be declared “out of status,” and you will be deported right away. Furthermore, even if you are eligible, you will not be allowed to apply for a green card or adjust your status. However, extending the I-94 by making an online application through USCIS or mailing it is possible.

Conclusion 

You must be briefed about the I-94 form. If you are traveling to the US and have some queries related to your I-94 form, you are welcome to ask our attorneys any of your concerns. Our attorneys are available to provide you assistance with your immigration documents and your visa applications. 

Let us work on your case

Or simply fill out the form and one of our attorneys will get back to you pretty shortly.

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