April 28th, 2011 by Eric J. Ramos
What is an I-94 or I-94W?
Foreign nationals visiting the United States must complete an I-94 if they hold a valid visa, or an I-94W if they are traveling without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.
The I-94 card is provided by the transportation carrier (for example the airline you traveled with) and it must be surrendered to an inspector of the Bureau of Customs and Border Security at the port of entry into the United States when applying for admission. The inspector will then separate the bottom part of the card and he or she will attach it to the passport. The part attached to the passport notes the date of entry to the United States and authorized period the visitor may remain in the country. In cases where a foreign national is the United States and holds a student visa, such as the F-1 or J visa, they will not find a specific expiration date but instead will find a D/S written on their I-94. This stands for Duration of Status and it correlates with the student’s program completion date.
When a foreign visitor leaves the United States, the transportation carrier representative, usually at the check-in counter, should remove the I-94 or I-94W from the passport. If this is not done, then the departure date is never registered with the USCIS, making entry into the United States at a later date problematic. In fact, the next time the foreign national attempts to enter the United States, their visa may cancelled or the person may be denied entry into the United States.
If you still have your I-94 after you depart, then it is the foreign national’s responsibility to correct the matter. To do so, the person is required to complete the back of the I-94 or I-94W card, listing the port and date of departure from the United States and the carrier/flight information. The I-94 or I-94W, along with a letter of explanation and evidence of your departure (see below for examples) from the U.S., should be sent to:
DHS – CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
Visitors who remain beyond their permitted stay in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program cannot reenter the U.S. in the future without obtaining a visa. When you arrive at a U.S. port of entry seeking admission under the Visa Waiver Program without a visa, United States immigration officials may deny you entry into the U.S. Visitors must ensure that they surrender the I-94 or I-94W stub to the transport carrier before they depart the United States.
What are examples of “evidence of departure” from the United States?
Documented evidence can come from a variety of sources, including but not limited to:
• Original boarding passes one used to leave the United States
• Entry or departure stamps in one’s passport that indicate entry in another country after leaving the United States
• Dated pay slips or vouchers from one’s employer abroad showing that one is working in another country since departing from the United States;
• Dated bank records showing transactions or dated credit card receipts in one’s home country indicating that they have been in another country after leaving the United States
• School records showing that the individual is attending a school outside the United States since leaving the United States
Send legible copies or original material when available. If you send original documents, retain a copy for your records. Originals will not be returned. One must also include a letter, written in English, with an explanation of why the I-94 or I-94W was not returned.
What if someone no longer has their I-94 or I-94W, which was originally not returned upon departure from the United States?
If one no longer has their I-94 or I-94W departure card, they should write to:
DHS – CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
And include the following information:
• Date and place of birth
• Country of citizenship
• Date of arrival in the U.S.
• Date of departure from the United States
• Airline or carrier departed on
• Flight number or name of vessel
If departure was via a land border, enter “land” instead of carrier information.
You must also include evidence of your departure as mentioned above.
What if one is still in the United States but their I-94 or I-94W is lost or damaged?
If one’s I-94 or I-94W is lost damaged or mutilated, then they must replace it by filing Form I-102, Application for Replacement Arrival-Departure Document.
Form I-102 is also appropriate if one of the following also applies:
• Applicants who are seeking to replace a mutilated Form I-95;
• Applicants who are seeking an I-94 card for the first time and who intend to file Form I-102 concomitantly with Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Individuals who hold an I-94W card on a Visa Waiver Program cannot apply for extension of stay.
NOTE: Applicants who need to correct an inaccurate Form I-94 or I-95 should not file Form I-102. If one needs to correct an inaccurate Form I-94 or I-95, one must do so immediately by directly contacting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The processing times to replace an I-94/I-95 card after filing Form I-102 ranges from 2 to 5 months.
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