A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

U.S. Land Visitors May Apply for I-94 Before Travel


If you are coming to the U.S. by land, you can apply for an I-94 seven days before you arrive.

The Form I-94 (Record of Arrival / Departure) is a very important immigration document. It provides non-immigrant visitors evidence they have been lawfully admitted to the U.S., which is required to verify their immigration status and employment authorization. 

Travelers arriving at land border ports of entry can speed up their entry by using the online I-94 application.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced an enhancement to the I-94 website today, which allows travelers to apply and pay for their I-94 online prior to arriving at a land port of entry. Travelers can speed up their entry into the U.S. by providing their biographic and travel information, and paying the $6 fee for their I-94 application online up to seven days prior to their entry. Payment can be made with a credit card, debit card, direct debit, or through PayPal.  

CBP expects that this new I-94 policy will expedite international travelers' entry into the U.S. at land ports of entry, while maintaining the highest standard of security.   It is hoped that this automated functionality will increase the efficiency of the entry process and reduces waiting time for international travelers. 

Travelers will now receive a provisional I-94 after submitting their application and payment online. The I-94 application will collect information that is usually collected in-person at the land port of entry, including biographic information (name, date of birth, country of citizenship), passport details, visa details, and petition/Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) number.

In order to finalize the I-94 issuance process, a traveler must present themselves at a land port of entry within seven days of their application and may have to submit biometrics, and be interviewed by a CBP officer. Travelers should also be prepared to show evidence of their residence, employment, and/or travel plans, if requested by the CBP officer.

If the traveler does not complete their I-94 issuance process within seven days of their application, their provisional I-94 will expire and they will have to reapply and the pay the fee again. There are no refunds if the I-94 is not issued within the seven day period or if the traveler is denied entrance to the United States. 

 In May 2013, CBP already automated the I-94 in the air and sea environment. The automated system allows CBP officers to create an I-94 Arrival Record at the time of inspection with passenger manifest information—eliminating the need for paper forms and manual data entry. According to CBP, the automation of the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record has greatly improved the traveler experience while saving the U.S. government an estimated $34.5 million in its first two years. To apply for your I-94 online, visit https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov.

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