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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has fully implemented its program to
automate the Form I-94 process for foreign national travelers arriving into the United States via air or sea and to eliminate the paper I-94 admission cards.
CBP no longer issues the paper Form I-94 (except for those foreign nationals arriving by land from Canada or Mexico) but rather creates an electronic record of admission and stamps the foreign national’s passport. The stamp contains the date of admission, the class (visa type) of admission, and the date until the foreign national is permitted to remain in the U.S.
The electronic record of admission may be accessed at
www.cbp.gov/i94. After travelers enter the United States, CBP will distribute instructions to them on how to access the website. The printout from the website is an official Form I-94. Arrival records dating back to April 26, 2011, can be found on the site, according to the agency.
Since the transition from paper to electronic I-94 cards began in 2013, “many foreign nationals arriving in the U.S. are still having difficulties in locating and printing the Form I-94 via CBP’s online system,” said Alka Bahal, partner and co-chair of the corporate immigration practice group at Fox Rothschild LLP. This has created challenges for employees who need to prove their legal-visitor status to employers. “The Form I-94 is proof of status in the U.S. and will be required for many benefits, such as employment, support of immigration petitions or applications, social security benefits, or even a driver’s license,” said Bahal.
It’s possible that the Form I-94 record does not exist because of a system error, but it’s more likely that the record exists in the system with data formatted differently than was entered, she said.
If your incoming employee receives a “Not found” message when attempting to retrieve his or her Form I-94, CBP has recommended that the individual contact the agency through a
deferred inspection office. Before contacting the deferred inspection office, you can try the following additional instructions to assist your incoming employee in retrieving the Form I-94 from the CBP automation system. Note that the I-94 website was recently updated to include the attestation that whoever uses it must be the person seeking his or her I-94 record, or an authorized representative or legal guardian of that person.
First, CBP prompts the following questions if a record is not found:
Bahal provided additional tips newly arrived employees may try:
If all of this fails, call or visit the nearest CPB deferred inspection office.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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