USCBP Transitions from paper
I-94 cards to electronic I-94 records
Beginning April 30th, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) will start automating the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to streamline USCBP entry and exit processing. The Form I-94 (small white card usually stapled into passport) currently serves as evidence that an international student or scholar has been lawfully admitted to the U.S. in a particular immigration status and reflects the corresponding expiration date. The new electronic process means that you will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea, as USCBP will upload your biographical data directly from your existing visa record and machine-readable passport. The USCBP officer will update your U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) entry record electronically and will stamp your passport to reflect:
1) the date you entered the U.S.
2) the immigration status in which you have been admitted to the U.S.
3) the expiration date of this status (which will indicate D/S reflecting duration of status for F-1s, J-1s and their dependent family members OR a specific date for all other classifications)
Figure 1: Previous Form I-94 Passport Stamp Electronic I-94
The passport stamp reflecting your last admission to the U.S. will become quite important as the stamp alone will be acceptable to verify your legal immigration status in many situations. If you need to apply for certain immigration and federal benefits that require more detailed I-94 arrival information, USCBP has established a website: www.cbp.gov/I94 where you can login and print out information regarding your most recent entry to the U.S. and your immigration status.
A clear passport stamp will be sufficient for basic immigration processing at the ISSO including (but not limited to):
- ISSO check-in
- Travel signature requests
- Transfer of F-1 or J-1 sponsorship
- Request for a new I-20 or DS-2019 for a program change and/or program extension (including a request for reduced course load, change of program, change of site of activity)
- Request for a new I-20 or DS-2019 to add dependents
However, if the stamp in your passport is not clear, OR, you need to apply for employment or other benefits from federal government agencies, you will need to present a print out of the detailed arrival information from the USCBP website at: www.cbp.gov/I94. Examples of procedures and/or applications that will require the printed I-94 arrival information include (but are not limited to):
- Request authorization for Curricular Practical Training
- Completing Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification to verify employment eligibility to begin or extend employment
- Submitting an immigration petition to the USCIS (Form I-765 for employment authorization, Form I-539 for change of immigration status, Form I-129 for application for H-1 authorization)
- Applying for a driver's license at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)
- Recommended when Applying for a Social Security Number at the Social Security Administration (SSA)
If you are currently in the U.S., the paper I-94 card that you have in your passport remains valid until you depart the U.S. so you do not need to take any action at this time. If you have plans to depart the U.S., you should plan to surrender your final paper I-94 card to an airline official and then make certain to review the arrival stamp you receive in your passport for accuracy the next time you return to the U.S..
If you have any questions about the USCBP transition to an automated arrival and departure system, please contact the staff of the ISSO or visit the following web links for more detailed information:
USCBP I-94 Demonstration Video
USCBP Announces Automation of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record