New system will streamline admission process but may lead to confusion for companies.
On March 21, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that a rule to automate the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record and eliminate the paper version of the form has been sent to the Federal Register for publication. The new rule is expected to be published later this week and will go into effect 30 days following publication. Once the rule goes into effect, foreign nationals in a nonimmigrant status who need evidence of lawful admission or evidence of work authorization will need to obtain a hard copy of their Form I-94 here.
According to the CBP, automation of Form I-94 "will increase efficiency and streamline the admission process." The new "paperless" form, however, may also lead to confusion for U.S. companies that employ foreign workers. The recently updated I-9 employment eligibility verification form and instructions do not address paperless Forms I-94, and the Department of Homeland Security has yet to provide specific guidance on verifying work authorization for foreign workers once the rule goes into effect. The printout of the Form I-94 should be accepted as evidence of work authorization, but employers may need to explain to newly hired foreign workers how to obtain this document through the CBP website. It is also possible that the online system may have some initial glitches that will slow down the employment verification process once the new system goes live.