The I-94 Arrival/Departure Record is a very important record to keep track of during any entries into the US in any nonimmigrant visa status. The I-94 system is an automated record system maintained by the US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) that provides an overview of your entries and exits into and out of the United States.
Formerly, CBP would issue physical, white I-94 cards to individuals entering the US in a nonimmigrant visa status. Over the past few years, the CBP stopped issuing I-94s in the form of white cards and began automating the process. Instead of receiving a physical I-94 card upon your entry to the US, you now must access your I-94 online.
How to access your I-94
You can access your I-94 through the following website: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov. As you will see on the site, you will need to provide your name, date of birth, passport number, and your passport’s country of issuance. Once entered, you can access both your I-94 record from your most recent entry to the US and your detailed “Travel History”, which provides an overview of your travel history into and out of the US over the past five years.
It is important to note that the system is not 100% accurate and many times not all exits from the US are captured properly.
What to look for on your I-94
Once you access your I-94 online, there are some important items you should note. Your I-94 will include a record number. This number is specific to this particular I-94, and will change with each entry and subsequent I-94 issued. This number and I-94 record will be important for use on any change of status or adjustment of status application or any other immigration matter you are seeking to address during the period of time that you are in the US.
The I-94 will also include your date of entry, class of admission, and end date of your admission. It is very important to ensure that you were entered under the right status and on the correct dates.
What if there is an error
An error on an I-94 can be very problematic as the I-94 is meant to convey your lawful nonimmigrant status in the US and your period of authorized stay. Since the automated I-94 record system was introduced, we have noticed a high number of errors when retrieving the I-94 online.
The most common errors we have seen are being admitted in the wrong visa status or being given an incorrect end date. However, we have also seen the error of not being entered into the system at all! Incorrect information can be very problematic in connection with applying for future immigration benefits or future travel to the US.
For example, an incorrect end date or an incorrect status, despite the fact that it is incorrect, will govern your stay in the US. If it’s clear that your I-94 is incorrect or you weren’t entered into the system at all, you will need to take steps to correct the information by contacting the deferred inspection site that oversees the port-of-entry where you last entered the US.