CBP Gears Up to Eliminate Form I-94
August 17, 2012
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is accelerating its plans to eliminate Form I-94, the arrival/departure record that plays a central role in documenting proper admission and maintenance of status. While the CBP has shared some information, many questions remain about the impact of this change. The CBP has given two reasons for getting rid of the I-94 for arrivals by air and by sea — firstly that it already has access to the data gathered on the form, and secondly that the form's elimination will save the agency considerable time and money. While a small-scale pilot program was initially contemplated, the CBP currently plans to eliminate Form I-94 systemwide on a date to be announced.
In place of the I-94, the plans call for issuing an admission stamp directly in the passports of arriving nonimmigrant foreign nationals. The stamp will include a handwritten notation indicating the status and authorized period of stay, similar to procedures now used for travelers under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Based on concerns expressed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the CBP has agreed to consider creating a web portal that would allow nonimmigrant foreign nationals to verify their status as stored by the government in its electronic format, so they can verify that it matches with the handwritten notation in their passport. Additionally, it remains to be seen how other entities — including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and state DMV offices — will alter their benefit application procedures that currently involve the I-94. WSM is tracking these developments closely, and we'll provide more information once the timing and further details have been announced.
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