Since the rollout of the automated I-94 card process, some foreign national travelers have been reporting problems retrieving their electronic I-94 record on the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.
As of April 30, 2013, CBP rolled out its program to automate the Form I-94 card process for foreign national travelers arriving into the U.S. via air or sea and to eliminate the paper I-94 admission cards. CBP is no longer issuing the paper Form I-94, but rather creating an electronic record of admission and stamping the foreign national’s passport. The passport stamp includes an annotation with the class of admission and duration of admission. The electronic record of admission may be accessed by a nonimmigrant foreign national at www.cbp.gov/I94.
Foreign nationals arriving at a land border continue to receive a paper Form I-94 from CBP.
Printing a record of the Form I-94 allows a foreign national to verify admission in the class and for the period of time indicated on the passport stamp. Additionally, having a paper printout facilitates applications for ancillary benefits, such as a driver’s license or a Social Security number.
Although CBP has announced that it has fully implemented this new system, some travelers have been experiencing problems in being able to locate their electronic I-94 Form in the new automated system. CBP provides useful information on its FAQ page. However, not all situations have been addressed by CBP in its instructions.
Electronic I-94 Retrieval Issues
If an individual cannot locate a record at www.cbp.gov/I94 or if the information at that site does not correlate with the passport admission stamp and written notation of class and term of admission made by CBP at the port of entry (POE), the foreign national should verify that the correct name as it appears in the passport has been entered on the website. The FAQ page instructs individuals to enter the first and last names as they appear on the “travel document” used to gain admission to the U.S. CBP explained that the name on the passport, rather than the visa (if these are different), is required to access a record of admission.
If a nonimmigrant foreign national, refugee or parolee tries unsuccessfully to access a record of admission online, or finds a discrepancy between the electronic record and the notation in the individual’s passport, CBP has recommended that the individual contact them through a deferred inspection office. CBP has advised that deferred inspection officers will continue to be the point of contact for resolving admissions errors.
Before contacting the deferred inspection office, CBP has provided additional instructions to assist foreign nationals in obtaining the Form I-94 out of the CBP automation system. If a foreign national cannot locate the Form I-94 on the CBP website, and instead, receives a “Not Found” message, it is possible that the Form I-94 does not exist because of a system error. However, it is more likely that the Form I-94 is in the CBP system, but the data is formatted differently than the foreign national entered it, so the I-94 is “hiding.”
Ensure data is entered correctly in all applicable fields:
Enter the name as stated in the passport, visa or submitted Form DS-160. Although CBP has stated it would draw the name for the Form I-94 from the travel document (e.g., passport biographic page), that is not always the case. The instructions on CBP’s website state that the name is drawn from the visa, if any. Therefore, check the passport, visa and a copy of the submitted Form DS-160 (if available) for name variations. The foreign national should attempt to enter the name as stated on each document.
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.
Switch the order of the names. Switch the last and first name when entering the information on the website. Some countries state the name in the passport as first name, last name, rather than the more standard order of last name, first name. This may cause the name to be recorded incorrectly in the CBP system.
Enter multiple first names or multiple last names without spaces. If a person has 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. Example: type the first names “Mary Jane” as “Maryjane.”
Check for multiple passport numbers. Check the Form DS-160 (if available) for the passport number on which the person was admitted, and 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.
Do not enter the year if it is 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 automated 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.
Check the classification. Check the classification designated on the 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.
Call or Visit the Deferred Inspection Office
If none of the above efforts resolve the issue, telephone or visit the CBP Deferred Inspection Office and 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, other offices may require an in-person visit with the nonimmigrant. Contact information for the deferred inspection offices can be found on CBP’s website.
Valerie A. Darling and Katheryn M.T. Wasylik are associate attorneys in the Minneapolis office of Faegre Baker Daniels.
© Copyright 2013 by Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. All rights reserved.
Paper Form I-94 Eliminated, SHRM Online Global HR, March 2013
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