In the past, any foreigner entering the US was asked to fill out a physical arrival & departure form called Form I-94. After April 30th, 2013, this process was made fully automated, and now, there is no need to fill out an I-94 form at airports and seaports, except in a few cases. This article talks about the details related to the I-94 form.
What is the I-94 Form in the US? Arrival/Departure Record
The Form I-94 was a physical form that foreigners entering the US used to fill out. It was mainly used to track arrivals and departures of foreigners entering the USA who arrived or departed from a US Port of Entry(PoE).
Usually, when you as a foreigner enter the US, you will need to provide your arrival information such as Flight number/ Vessel number, date of arrival, passport number, full name, date of birth, your citizenship, city where you boarded, where your US visa was issued and your address that you will stay in US. In the past, until April 2013, you were asked to fill out a physical I-94 form. But, after 2013, all of the I-94 form process was automated with electronic records created automatically in DHS systems at airports, seaports and passengers do not need to fill out physical I-94 form.
There are a few scenarios where a physical I-94 form is filled. Especially when there is a service disruption with software systems or any specific issues with your case in the system, etc. If you fill a physical I-94 form, the CBP officer would usually tear a part of it and give you a stub of I-94 card with a stamp on it. Check Sample I-94 Physical Form and read How to Fill an I-94 Form
What information does I-94 Form or Card Has? Number, Expiration Date, Status?
An I-94 card issued at port of entry or printed electronically from DHS system has the below information. It defines your visa status that you have used to enter America at port of entry.
- Admission (I-94) Record Number : It is a long number, that is like on a physical I-94 card that is used to track your entry/ exit in US.
- Class of Admission : Your class of Visa that you used to enter US. E.g.: B1, H1B, L1
- Admit Until Date : The date until which you can legally stay in US without violating your visa status.
- Last Name / Surname : Your family name or last name
- First / Given Name : Your full name as in passport
- Passport Number : Passport number as it appears in your passport used at PoE
- Country of Issuance : Your passport issued country.
Below is an actual electronic I-94 card issued at Port of entry with all the above information. Check out more Samples of I-94 Electronic Form printed online.
What is I-94 Arrival Departure Record Number? My I-94 form Number ?
I-94 Arrival-Departure Record number is the Admission Record Number on the I-94 card that is used for tracking your arrival departure information by CBP, DHS or USCIS. It is printed on the electronic I-94 record that you print online as in above screenshot. If you have a physical I-94 form, it is the big number on the I-94 Card. See below sample.
Why do you need I-94 form/ card ? What is it used for in US ?
The I-94 form is a very important document that every foreigner needs to have it handy, when they are in US for verification of their legal immigration status, employment authorization, verifying aliens registration, etc. It validates your status in US and tells that you have legally entered US and staying as per CBP rules for the visa.
You will be asked to provide a copy of your current I-94 when you apply for driving license, SSN, etc.. You need to make sure the details of your I-94 reflect your passport details. If you were to be given a physical I-94 card, then you need to keep it safely and it has your visa information and when you should depart America. You can also print out the I-94 arrival departure card online on DHS website.
Do I need to hand over I-94 Card, when I leave US ?
Yes, if you were to be given a paper based I-94 card, then you will need to return to the airlines or CBP officer, when you depart US. Usually, you would be given Paper I-94 when you enter using land and you hand over the same, when you depart at airport, land or sea. If you were not given a paper I-94 card, do not worry about it.
I was not given paper I-94, do I have to do anything during departure from US ?
No, there is nothing you need to do, if you were not given a paper I-94. When you depart US using a commercial airline or a cruise ship, then your departure is automatically tracked by the DHS systems with data from the commercial airlines/ cruise ships. You may keep a copy of your boarding pass from US to your destination as a reference, if needed for verification or any issues with your I-94.
What happens, if you do NOT turn in I-94 card at exit or departure from US ?
If you were not to turn in your I-94 card during your departure from the US, you are considered to have overstayed in US and you would be subject to bar from re-entry to the US for certain amount of time either 3 or 10 years depending on the duration of overstay.
So, it is important to hand over the card to track your exit or departure properly in the DHS systems. One way you can ensure your departure is tracked is by checking your US Travel History Online. If there are any discrepancies, you can report to the DHS team and get it corrected by providing your boarding pass.
What evidence should you hold to address any I-94 issues for NOT tracking your US Departure Properly ?
If you were not given I-94 card, sometimes your departure may not be tracked properly. To prove your departure properly, when you try to re-enter US, it is advisable to hold the below documents and show them to CBP for proving your departure from US.
- Transportation Tickets that you used to enter and depart from US
- Boarding Pass of your flight departing to your destination outside of US
- Pay stubs of your work outside US
- Arrival Stamps in Passport at the destination country outside US
- CBP Entry Stamp in your Passport at Port of Entry to prove arrival into US.
I-94 form for US Citizens? How about Permanent Residents or Green Card Holders?
I-94 form is applicable or given only given to foreign citizens entering US. It is not applicable to US Citizens, Lawful Permanent Resident or Green Card holders, Returning Resident (SB-1) aliens and most Canadian citizens visiting US or in transit. Neither do they need to fill it out nor will they get one electronically.
You can check out I-94 Factsheet on CBP.gov Website