The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), recently announced that it will no longer stamp passports of foreign nationals entering the United States at certain ports of entry. In addition, paper/printed I-94 records of admission are not provided to foreign nationals when they enter United States. This change in policy of not issuing admission/entry stamps makes it more important than ever that foreign nationals check their electronic I-94 admission records each and every time they enter the United States.
A visa is a document that permits a foreign national to seek admission to the United States, but does not, in and of itself, provide any status. The foreigner's lawful immigration status is determined solely and exclusively by the I-94 record issued by CBP upon admission to the United States. For this reason, it is vital that all foreign nationals look up and print their electronic I-94 records every time they enter the United States. If there is a mistake made on an I-94 record of admission due to CBP error, there is a system in place by which CBP can correct the information—either via email request or through in-person appearance at a CBP site, depending on the rules of the relevant jurisdiction. I-94 records can be accessed here.
Even if a foreign national enters the United States through a port that does, in fact, stamp the passport with the admission date, it is still vitally important that the electronic I-94 record also be checked and printed or saved. When a person enters the United States on a visa that permits employment, for example, the foreign national must confirm his or her admission pursuant to that visa classification that permits employment. If a mistake is made by the officer at the port of entry and the foreign national is admitted as a visitor, for example, the foreign national is technically not permitted to work in the United States. This could have serious consequences to the foreign national him or herself, as well as the company that employs the individual.
Foreign nationals who travel frequently may find it tedious to print/save their I-94 records each time they enter, but it is necessary to confirm that the admission classification and expiration date are correct. If they are not, a person may find him or herself not authorized to lawfully work in the United States, an employer may find itself not lawfully employing a foreign national, and a foreign national may accrue unlawful presence in the United States. All of these serious consequences of an incorrect admission can generally be avoided or mitigated by consistently checking electronic I-94 admissions each and every time a foreign national is admitted to the United States.
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.