USCBP To Phase in Automated Form I-94

On April 4, United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) announced its new automated I-94 entry process. By way of background, all foreign nationals admitted to the United States have historically been issued a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, showing their admission classification, date of entry and date of expiration of their nonimmigrant temporary stay. USCBP is phasing in its automated process beginning on April 30, 2013 at five pilot ports of entry, and the implementation will continue through the week of May 21, 2013. The rollout does not cover automated I-94 implementation at land ports of entry. Foreign nationals arriving at land borders from Canada and Mexico will still receive a paper Form I-94.

Once the automated system takes effect, foreign nationals arriving at air and sea ports will receive a stamp in their passports instead of a paper Form I-94. Their immigration classification and period of stay will be immediately recorded by USCBP in its database. After admission, foreign nationals may go to to print out a paper I-94 record. Foreign nationals upon arrival in the United States will receive a flyer alerting them of the change and directing them to visit the website for their admission record information. USCBP believes its automated system will streamline the entry process for international travelers and save the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year.

The implementation rollout is as follows:

Week of April 30: International Airports at:

  • - Chicago O’Hare
  • Charlotte Douglas
  • Las Vegas
  • Miami
  • Orlando

Week of May 7: Major air and sea ports in:

  • New York
  • Boston
  • Baltimore
  • Atlanta
  • Tampa
  • Houston
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • Puerto Rico
  • New Orleans
  • Buffalo
  • Miami

Week of May 14: All preclearance inspection stations, as well as major air and sea ports in the following cities:

  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Tucson
  • El Paso
  • Laredo
  • Portland
  • Seattle
  • San Diego
  • Hawaii
  • Guam
  • Alaska

Week of May 21: All remaining airports and seaports

What Does This Mean to Employers?

Form I-94 is one of the most common documents foreign nationals show to employers along with their foreign passports to indicate their identity and employment authorization when completing Forms I-9, Employment Verification Eligibility. The new edition of Form I-9 that takes effect on May 7, 2013 does not have instructions regarding the acceptance of a printout of Form I-94 as part of List A documents so it remains an open question as to whether employers can accept the initial stamp placed in the passport at time of entry and/or the printout the foreign national can obtain online by visiting USCBP’s website.