United States: Tips For Finding Your Paperless I-94

Last Updated: August 8 2013
Article by Alka Bahal

As you may know by now, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has fully implemented its program to automate Form I-94 at all air and sea ports pursuant to the agency's interim final regulation.   Many foreign national travelers are encountering difficulties in locating and printing the Form I-94 via CBP's online information system.

A.  Locate and Print your Form I-94 each time you arrive in the U.S.

B. Verify that the information on the Form I-94 is correct every time. Your Form I-94 is proof of your status in the U.S. and will be required for many benefits, such as employment, support of immigration petitions or applications, social security benefits, or even a driver's license.

C. If you cannot locate the Form I-94 on the CBP website, and instead, receive a "Not Found" message. Try the following tips to locate your record:  It is possible that the Form I-94 does not exist because of a system error, but it is more likely that the Form I-94 exists in the CBP system with data formatted differently than you entered it, preventing it from being found by your search.

Ensure that you are entering ALL data correctly in all applicable fields.

1) Enter your name as stated in your passport, visa, or your submitted Form DS-160.    The CBP has indicated that it would draw the name for the Form I-94 from the passport but the instructions on CBP's website state that the name is drawn from the visa, if any. Therefore, you should check your passport, visa, and a copy of the submitted Form DS-160 (if available) for name variations.  Try entering the name as stated on each document.

2) Enter the first and middle name in the First Name field.   In the first name field, type the first and the middle name (if any) with a space in between.  Do this even if the middle name is not stated on the passport or visa.

3) Switch the order of the names.   Put your last name in as your first name and your first name as your last name.  Some countries state the name in the passport as first name, last name, rather than the more standard order of last name, first name, which may cause the name to be recorded incorrectly in the CBP system.

4) Enter multiple first names or multiple last names without spaces. If you have two first names or two last names, type the first names without a space between them or the last names without a space between them.

5) Check for multiple passport numbers. Check the Form DS-160 (if available) for the passport number stated. If the passport number on the Form DS-160 is different than the passport number on which the person was admitted, type the passport number as stated on the submitted Form DS-160. Also, check the passport number stated on the visa. If the passport number is different than the current passport, enter the passport number stated on the visa.

6) Do not enter the year if included in the passport number. Some passport numbers may begin with the year in which the passport was issued, causing the number to be too long for the relevant field in CBP's automation system. If relevant, try entering the passport number without the year. For example, a Mexican passport that was issued in 2008 may have a passport number that starts with "08" followed by nine digits. Try entering the passport number without the "08." This problem should not arise for newer Mexican passports, as those passports do not begin with the year.

7) Check the Classification.   Check the classification designated on your visa and compare it to the classification stated on the admission stamp in the passport, as there may be a slight variation. Be sure to try both designations. For example, the visa may state "E-3D" for an E-3 dependent, but the admission stamp may state only "E-3." The automated I-94 could state the classification either way.

If all of this fails, call or visit a CPB Deferred Inspection office.  Telephone or visit your local CBP Deferred Inspection Office to explain the problem.   Some of the Deferred Inspection Offices have been able to resolve the problem over the phone without an in-person visit, however, many other offices require an in-person visit.

If the problem persists, contact an attorney to assist you and/or to submit an inquiry on your behalf to the American Immigration Lawyer's Association, which has an outreach program with CBP.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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