Watch your I-94 record

Since the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) introduced the online system to obtain I-94 records, we’ve seen an increase in the number of records containing errors. This creates confusion among nonimmigrant visa holders, and can increase the risk a temporary visitor overstaying their status.

The expiration date shown on a nonimmigrant’s I-94 record is the last day that a foreign national is lawfully permitted to remain in the United States. A nonimmigrant Visa stamp (the colored label placed in a nonimmigrant’s passport), shows the date range that a foreign national is permitted to travel to the U.S. to request admission. A nonimmigrant that does not travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), must first possess a valid U.S. visa to request entry into the U.S. It is important that nonimmigrants are aware of the distinction between these records, as failure to depart the U.S. prior to the expiry date shown on a current I-94 could result is significant consequences.

In April 2013, U.S. CBP began rolling-out a new electronic system, which now allows nonimmigrants to download their most recently issued I-94 record, as well as see their U.S. entry and departure dates. This system replaced the need for CBP to issue paper I-94 records. With this new system, a new and updated I-94 record should be made available to nonimmigrants to download after each new entry into the U.S. See https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/consent.html

It is important to remember that CBP will not issue a new I-94 expiration date beyond the expiration date of a nonimmigrant’s passport. For this reason, nonimmigrant visa holders should also ensure they have sufficient validity remaining on their passports when applying for admission to the U.S. This can help to maximize the validity of a foreign nationals’ status each time they enter the U.S.

The I-94 record can also be a critical piece of information for company HR managers, who may be responsible for tracking the status of their foreign national employees. For this additional reason, nonimmigrants should always check the accuracy of their I-94 records after entering the U.S. This is the best way to ensure they remain aware of the date they can lawfully remain in the U.S, and to immediately identify any errors on the record. It's often easier to work with a CBP official to correct mistakes if they are identified and flagged early.

Andrew David

Andrew David is the principal of David Immigration Law PLLC, and one of very few dual-citizen lawyers qualified to practice law in both the United States and Australia. Andrew advises individuals, small- and medium-sized businesses, and large multinational companies on U.S. immigration law and procedure.