Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, is the document that record the arrival and departure dates of U.S. visitors. Processed by Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Form I-94 information provides basic visitor information—things like the arrival date, visa status, and the date the visitor is required to leave the U.S.
Form I-94 now comes in two formats—paper and electronic. The paper version is used mostly in cases where visitors cross land borders. Others who will still use the paper Form I-94 include those who come to the U.S. without travel documents. Certain classes of aliens, including asylees, refugees and parolees, will continue to receive paper Form I-94 documents. CPB will also continue issuing paper Form I-94 documents in other situations where officials deem it appropriate.
By contrast, arrival/departure information for visitors traveling by sea or air is now transmitted entirely electronically. Because advance notice of travel is available through carrier manifests, CBP gathers information automatically from electronic travel records.
Although visitors with the electronic Form I-94 don’t receive a paper Arrival/Departure Record, travelers entering the country receive an admission stamp annotated with an arrival date, immigration status and an “admitted until” date in their passports. This is an easier travel documentation process for visitors.
Visitors who need a physical copy of their Form I-94 to provide proof of their legal-visitor status to employers, schools/universities or government agencies or institutions, can request on CBP’s website.
The electronic record of the Form I-94 also streamlines the visa extension process for visitors looking to extend their stay. For visitors who meet extension requirements, CPB can quickly and easily verify visitors’ Form I-94 electronically.
For asylees, refugees and parolees who don’t automatically receive an electronic Form I-94, CPB issues a paper Form I-94. On these paper forms, a pre-printed number is crossed out and a handwritten electronic number is written out.
Although many visitors to the U.S. no longer receive a paper Form I-94, DHS and CPB still create the forms electronically. The forms are simply stored in agency databases.
When visitors leave the U.S. by sea or air, no additional preparation is required. Visitors who have a paper Form I-94 surrender the form to officials with the commercial carrier or CPB on departure. Departure information is then electronically recorded. Departure information is likewise recorded based on carrier manifest information.
Automation of the electronic Form I-94 streamlines the entry process for travelers, assists in security and reduces the overall cost to the federal system. CBP puts agency cost-saving estimates of the automation at a hefty $15.5 million each year.
CPB form automation began in 2010 with Form I-94W. Since then, independent studies have demonstrated a process time savings of 20 seconds per passenger. Similar efficiencies are projected with Form I-94 automation.
Foreign visitors to the U.S. arriving via air or sea no longer need to complete paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94 or I-94W. Those who need to prove their legal-visitor status—to employers, schools/universities or government agencies—can access their CBP arrival/departure record information online.