April 30, 2013

On April 30, 2013, the United States (U.S.) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin phasing out issuance of the traditional white Arrival/Departure Record card, or “I-94 Card”, at all U.S. air and sea ports that process international arrivals. While this affects all foreign nationals entering the U.S. and how they evidence their entry and immigration status, the automation may also temporarily affect third-country national (TCN’s) submitting their visas applications with foreign consular posts based in the U.S.

New Arrival/Departure Record Process

Since mid-2012, the CBP has been slowly phasing out issuance of the I-94 Arrival/Departure Card (I-94 Card) that denotes a foreign national’s status and period of stay in the U.S.

Beginning April 30, 2013, the CBP is authorized to continue its automation at all major U.S. air and sea ports. The ports of entry scheduled for automation can be found here.

As the majority of foreign nationals arrive the United States by commercial and private air carriers, those foreign nationals entering the U.S. via air will have their information electronically transmitted to the CBP using the carrier’s flight manifest information (i.e., the Advance Passenger Information System or “APIS”).

Most nonimmigrants entering the U.S. using APIS will receive an admission stamp affixed in their passports and the CBP will create an electronic record of their entry details. No physical I-94 card will be given unless specifically requested by the traveler or in certain situations deemed by CBP to warrant issuance of a card.

In general, issuance of I-94 Cards will occur only in the following circumstances: for those who are referred to secondary inspection; who specifically request an I-94 Card or those overland travelers applying at U.S. ports of entry along Canada and Mexico border.

Further details regarding the upcoming changes in issuing I-94 Cards can be found here.

On and after April 30, 2013, those travelers who wish to voluntarily review their Arrival/Departure records and print their I-94 record will be able to do so at the following website.

Temporary Impact for TCN’s Applying at Foreign Consulates in the U.S.

While this is primarily a U.S. immigration control issue, it is important to note that the I-94 Card has been considered as the (a) definitive document evidencing a foreign national’s legal entry to the United States and (b) the card is endorsed with the definitive duration of stay (e.g., while a visa may grant a stay of up to 2 years, an I-94 card could be endorsed for a stay of only up to one year).

  • For Global immigration purposes, in order for a foreign consular post in the U.S. to accept jurisdiction of a third-country national’s (TCN’s) visa application, many foreign country consular posts in the U.S. look to the I-94 card as proof of legal stay (especially the U.S. neighboring country consular posts, such as Canada and Mexico and EU-country consular posts).
  • For the immediate foreseeable future, a consular post may request where the I-94 card is in the passport or requesting a copy of the applicant’s I-94 card. Therefore, TCN’s who anticipate applying for onward visas while in the U.S. should include a printed version of their I-94 information using this facility offered on the following website.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Prior to filing a TCN’s visa application with a foreign consular post, if an I-94 card is not available, per the CPB’s alert, the CPB should be endorsing proof of admission and affixing an admission stamp in the foreign national’s passport.  It is advisable to request for the applicant to confirm which visa page contains the most recent admission stamp along with requesting a printed copy of the most recent I-94 record.

As foreign consular posts in the U.S. gradually adjust to “paperless” entry, consular officers will update their application requirements accordingly.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management. Pro-Link GLOBAL references the CBP’s and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration’s (USCIS) guidance to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.