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Major Change Upon Entering the US: No More Paper I-94s

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Major Change Upon Entering the US: No More Paper I-94s

March 29, 2013


WSM reported on our website two weeks ago that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had submitted a rule for I-94 automation to the Federal Register on March 21, 2013. On March 27, the Federal Register officially published the rule, and the CBP held a stakeholder teleconference to clarify the transition plans. The government is accepting comments on the new rule for 30 days, after which the electronic I-94s will become a reality and will be phased in at airports over a four-week period beginning April 30.

The automation of I-94s will significantly impact nonimmigrant employees returning to the U.S., primarily in a positive manner as the process for inspection upon entering the U.S. should go more quickly. However, we anticipate that many nonimmigrants will need to print the electronic I-94 (available immediately beginning April 26,2013 on a new government website), either to verify a recent entry — for example, when applying for a change of employer or as proof of status when applying for a driver's license — or when their employer completes the Form I-9, Verification of Employment Eligibility. CBP anticipates that employers will be able to accept an I-94 printout, along with an unexpired passport, during the I-9 and E-Verify processes, but this has not yet been addressed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that oversees I-9 compliance.

Beginning April 30, 2013 and continuing for a four-week period, the electronic I-94s will be phased in at all air and sea ports. Foreign nationals entering by way of land ports will continue to receive a paper I-94 for the time being. Also, the following categories of individualsl will continue to receive paper I-94s: refugees, asylees, parolees, and any foreign national the CBP deems appropriate for a paper I-94.

The move to electronic I-94s reflects the reality that, since 9/11, the CBP has been keeping electronic records of all arrivals and departures of foreign nationals to and from the U.S. Using the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), the CBP collects information about all passengers traveling to the U.S. by land and sea before they arrive. Similar data is available for departures in the Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS).

To access or print the electronic Form I-94 (after April 26), individuals will be able to go to (please note that this URL is not yet functional). The following data will be required: First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, Passport Number, Country of Issuance, Date of Entry, and Class of Admission (for example, H-1B or F-1).

If you or your employees have questions about this change, or other immigration-related issues, please contact WSM.

*Article updated 4/1/2013

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