Simply put, an I-94 record contains all of the most important information related to a nonimmigrant’s stay in the United States, including detailing how long they can remain in the country and what kinds of things they can do while here.
Moreover, it serves as proof of their lawful admission to the United States. If this form contains errors that aren’t noticed until too late, the person holding it and their employer can find themselves in serious trouble.
How do I-94s work?
They are issued or generated upon admission to the United States. Those entering the country by air or sea will receive them electronically. Travelers entering by land will get a paper copy. I-94s are also attached to approvals of petitions filed with USCIS to change or extend status for those already in the United States.
Beyond providing nonimmigrants with proof that they have been lawfully admitted, these forms note key information such as the applicant’s admission classification (H-1B, L-1, O-1, E-3, TN, B-1, or other) and the length of their allowed stay in the United States.
A couple of quick additional notes:
- The I-94 applies to nonimmigrants only. US citizens and US lawful permanent residents (green card holders) do not receive an I-94 document.
- I-94s are generally limited to the expiration date on the passport. Because of this, it is vital that foreign nationals monitor the expirations of their passports.
- I-94s are essential to file for change or extension of status; additionally, they are relied on by numerous agencies such as the State Department of Motor Vehicles and the SSA.
- I-94s serve as proof of work authorization and often used during the Form I-9 process
One can access electronic I-94 admissions records at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. This website provides the most recent I-94 admission information, as well as some travel history.
It is essential that all nonimmigrants carefully review the I-94 admission record upon each entry to ensure that the correct category and status expiration date are listed. Sadly, errors are common, but if they are noticed early, they are often easily corrected.
Bottom line? We can’t overemphasize this enough: if you are a nonimmigrant returning to the United States from a trip abroad, please make sure you log in and review your I-94 record after your admission.