All airports and seaports have implemented the new system as of May 21, 2013.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has completed the process of automating Form I-94, the document issued to foreign nationals upon arrival in the United States. CBP began utilizing the new automated I-94 process at select airports during the week of April 30, 2013. As of May 21, 2013, the new process has been implemented at all airports and seaports.
Important Information About Automated I-94s
How will foreign nationals' arrivals and departures be documented?
Previously, upon arriving in the United States, nonimmigrants received a paper I-94 card that listed their names, dates of arrival, I-94 numbers, nonimmigrant statuses, and the dates their statuses expired. With the new automated process, CBP will no longer issue paper Forms I-94. CBP will continue to issue an admission stamp in the passport of a nonimmigrant visitor and will make a handwritten notation indicating the nonimmigrant's status and authorized period of stay. An unexpired admission or parole stamp in a foreign passport will constitute evidence of admission to the United States.
In addition to issuing passport stamps, CBP will create an electronic record for the arriving nonimmigrant upon admission, utilizing data that CBP receives from the individual's nonimmigrant visa application, data from the airline, and information contained in the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS). This record will be available on CBP's website.
Persons admitted through "non-automated" land ports of entry will continue to be issued paper Forms I-94. I‑797 Approval Notices issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will also continue to include a tear-off I‑94 portion.
Where can employees obtain their Forms I-94?
After arriving in the United States, a nonimmigrant may view and print his or her electronic Form I-94 by visiting the CBP website here and entering personal information, such as his or her name, passport number, date of admission, and port of admission. The resulting I-94 will look like the below:
Data in the CBP website may be searched by name, country of citizenship, and passport number. The name on the nonimmigrant's passport, rather than that on his or her visa or other immigration document, is the one that will be entered by CBP.
CBP estimates that admission data will be uploaded and available to the visitor within 24 hours of admission. Please note that access to Form I-94 will no longer be available to the nonimmigrant after he or she leaves the United States and reenters at a later date.
A paper Form I-94 will be issued upon request at the time of inspection by CBP, but it will require referral to secondary inspection.
What should employers do if the electronic Form I-94 does not match an employee's passport or other immigration information?
Although the transition to automated Forms I-94 is expected to decrease the number of errors that foreign nationals experience with their arrival documents, human error is still possible. For example, the information provided on the CBP website may contain erroneous nonimmigrant status or period of stay information. If such an error is encountered after admission, a visit to a CBP Deferred Inspection Site to correct the mistake may be made. CBP has expressed its willingness to accept such requests for correction.
How can I comply with I-9 requirements using an automated I-94?
Form I-9 requires employers to verify that each employee possesses either an Identity and Employment Authorization document (as described in List A of the form) or a combination of two documents that establishes Identity and Employment Authorization (as described in Lists B and C of the form). One acceptable document described in List A is a foreign passport and a Form I-94 that has (1) the same name as the passport and (2) an unexpired endorsement indicating a nonimmigrant status that allows employment.
To establish employment authorization using a passport and Form I-94, an arriving nonimmigrant must access his or her most recent Form I-94 by visiting the CBP website, downloading and printing a copy of the Form I-94, and providing a copy to his or her employer, along with a current foreign passport. This electronically created Form I-94 will contain the information necessary to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.
A printout of the electronic Form I-94 may also be used for other purposes, such as obtaining a Social Security number or driver's license. All arriving nonimmigrants are encouraged to access CBP's website and print a copy of their electronic Forms I-94. This will serve as a useful backup document if the information contained in CBP's website is unavailable for any reason.
For more information, or if you have any questions regarding the issues discussed in this Immigration Alert, please contact any of the following attorneys:
Lisa Stephanian Burton