I 94 Form – Information for Travellers
If you are a non-US national travelling to the United States you will need to know all about the I 94 Form, what information this contains and why it’s needed.
What is Form I 94?
Upon arrival in the United States, a Customs Border Protection (CBP) officer will either stamp your passport with your admission date, the class of admission and the date that you are admitted until or, alternatively, you will be issued with a small white card called Form I 94.
The I 94 form is proof of legal visitor status, in other words it proves that you have arrived in the United States legally, and indicates how long you are permitted to stay, ie; duration of status or “D/S”.
Typically, if you arrive by air or by sea, you should be issued with a passport admission stamp. In these circumstances, there will also be an electronic I-94 record of your admission.
Travellers who arrive in the United States by crossing a land border will continue to receive the paper Form I 94. In these cases, you will not receive an electronic I-94 record.
What does the I 94 form look like?
If you are entering the United States by air or sea carrier you will no longer be required to complete Form I 94 in the old paper version.
Instead, CBP will gather your arrival and departure information automatically from your electronic travel records.
However, if you are entering the US by land, you will still need to complete the paper version of Form I 94. This is because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travellers.
How do I access my I 94 form electronically?
Your I 94 arrival and departure record and history can be accessed on the CBP website.
International travellers visiting the United States can apply for or retrieve their I 94 admission number/record online, as well as retrieve a limited travel history of their US arrivals and departures for the past five years.
You can retrieve this record by entering your name, date of birth and passport information. This record should be available immediately after your arrival.
Do I need to surrender my paper Form I 94 on my departure?
If you are only taking short trips, ie; 30 days or less, to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, during the course of your visit to the United States, you should retain your Form I 94.
This will only need to be surrendered when you leave the US to return home.
What if I fail to surrender a paper Form I 94 on my departure?
Most travellers to the United States will have an electronic Form I 94. As such, upon exiting the United States, CBP will record your departure electronically via manifest information provided by the air or sea carrier.
However, if you entered the United States via a land border port of entry, or were perhaps provided a paper Form I 94 at an air or seaport, typically you will be required to surrender this on your departure.
In the event that you have been issued a paper Form I 94 but forgot to hand this in on your departure, and inadvertently returned home with this, you may need to take steps to correct your US departure record.
In circumstances where you departed by a commercial air or sea carrier, for example by airline or cruise ship, your departure from the US can be independently verified, and it is not necessary to take any further action. That said, you should still retain your outbound boarding pass from the US, as this can help facilitate your re-entry next time you come back to the United States.
If, however, you left the US by land, private vessel or private plane, you will need to take steps to correct your travel record. In the event that you do not validate your timely departure from the United States, or, if you cannot reasonably prove you departed within the timeframe given to you when you entered, the next time you apply for admission to the United States, CBP may decide that you remained in the US beyond your authorised stay.
If you are found to have overstayed, CBP officers may cancel your visa and you may be asked to return home, or otherwise to your foreign point of origin.
Accordingly, if you failed to turn in your Form I 94 Departure Record, you should post this, along with a letter of explanation and any documentation that proves you left the United States, to the relevant correspondence address provided on the US CBP website.
How do I validate my departure from the US?
In circumstances where you have failed to surrender your paper Form I 94 when leaving the United States, and you are required to take steps to correct your travel record (see above), you will not only need to provide the CBP with a letter of explanation to help validate your departure, you will also need to provide some documentary evidence in support.
To validate departure CBP will consider a wide range of information, including but not limited to the following:
- Original outbound boarding passes from the United States that you used to depart another country.
- Photocopies of entry or departure stamps in your passport indicating entry to another country after you departed the United States.
- Photocopies of dated pay slips from your employer to indicate you worked in another country after you departed the United States.
- Photocopies of dated bank records showing transactions to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States.
- Photocopies of school records showing attendance at a school outside the US to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States.
- Photocopies of dated credit card receipts for purchases made after you left the US to indicate you were in another country after leaving the United States. You should delete any credit card number but leave your name visible here.
You should also retain a copy of any letter and supporting documentation that you send to the CBP, keeping this on your person for when you travel to the United States again. In this way you will be easily able to answer any questions officials may have in respect of your eligibility to enter.
Your travel record can also be corrected in the event that this has not yet been done at that point in time.
How do I apply for a replacement Form I 94?
If you have lost, had stolen or irreparably damaged a paper Form I 94 that was issued prior to the online system and the record is not available online, you may be able to obtain a replacement form from the CBP website without charge.
Failing that, you can file a Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Unfortunately, however, you will need to pay a fee of $445 for a replacement Form I 94.
Typically, you will need to file Form 1-102 in the following circumstances:
- You were admitted at a port of entry, whether at a land border, airport or seaport, and either you were not issued an initial Form I 94 or you would like to replace a lost, stolen or mutilated Form I 94.
- You would like to replace a lost, stolen or mutilated Form I 94 and you were either admitted at a land border, or at an airport or seaport before 18 June 2010.
- You extended or changed your initial non-immigrant status with USCIS after you were admitted to the US, and you need a replacement of your lost, stolen or mutilated Form I 94.
- You were issued Form I 94 with incorrect information.
Please note, if CBP issued your Form I 94 with incorrect information at the port of entry, for example, a misspelled name, incorrect date of birth, visa classification or date of admission, you will instead need to go to the nearest CBP port of entry, or the nearest CBP deferred inspection office, in person, to have the information corrected.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.