U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that it is experiencing
delays in entering I-94 information into the I-94 database. This
delay affects all foreign nationals with immigration statuses that
confer work authorization, eligibility for a social security
number, drivers' licenses and/or admission to college,
including F, H, L, M, O, P and TN to
name a few. Many state and federal agencies use the I-94 database
to confirm a foreign national's legal immigration status
and eligibility for various benefits. There is no
indication from CBP as to when the backlog will
CBP has also announced their plan to
eliminate the issuance of the paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure
card to nonimmigrants who enter the U.S. CBP is exploring
the option of automating the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure card to
allow for the electronic collection of arrival/departure
information and subsequently, streamlining the arrival and
inspection process, as well as their data entry process.
A proposed online portal will allow nonimmigrants to check their
status, period of stay, and enable them to print a record of their
admission. Once CBP stops issuing I-94s, travelers will
receive a passport stamp annotated with their immigration status
and the date that their period of stay expires. Foreign
nationals entering at land ports of entry, refugees, and some other
classes of foreign nationals will continue to receive a functional
In most circumstances, the I-94 card is used as proof
of lawful immigration status in the U.S. and USCIS requires
nonimmigrants to carry the I-94 as proof of their status.
The I-94 is used in the employment verification process for Form
I-9 and in the E-Verify database. It is likely that
employers will have to change the way that they verify work
eligibility once the paper form is eliminated. Form I-94
is also used by Federal and state agencies to verify whether a
foreign national is entitled to certain benefits such as a Social
Security number and driver's license; the proposed change
could delay the issuance of these benefits. CBP has met
with interested government agencies regarding the automated
program, but has not yet determined how the elimination of Form
I-94 will affect the above critical procedures and
requirements. There is no firm date as to when paper
I-94s will be eliminated by CBP.
Special thanks to Ashley Litostanski, immigration paralegal, for
assistance in preparation of this blog
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