Having Trouble Downloading I-94 From CBP? What to Do

Many immigrants are encountering glitches when trying to obtain a paper copy of their Form I-94.

The switch from paper to online I-94s isn't going as smoothly as hoped for. The U.S. government's idea wasn't a bad one: That instead of putting little paper cards in foreign visitors' passports showing that their entry on a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa was permitted, and indicating the expiration date of their status – such little cards being all to easy to lose, thus endangering visitors' abilities to do things like prove their legal entry – the government would switch to an online system. Entries would be catalogued in a database.

Visa entrants were told, however, that if they wanted or needed a paper copy of their Form I-94, they'd be able to download one from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

The new system got going in April of 2013. However, since then, many applicants and their attorneys have reported that their efforts to download the form have gotten them nowhere.

Immigration attorneys have brought the issue to CBP's attention. There's no news on what they're doing to fix the problems, but in the meantime, here's what they suggest people try when on the CBP website attempting to download their I-94:

  • enter not only your first name, but also your middle name in the "First Name" field
  • try flipping the order of your first and last name
  • enter your first and last names multiple times without spaces (that one's so bizarre that you wonder what's really going on in their system!)
  • check whether you might have more than one passport number
  • don't enter the year if it is already included in your passport number
  • compare the designated classification on your visa with the designated classification on your admission stamp

If all else fails, they suggest you contact a CBP Deferred Inspection office. Or, if you're submitting an application for an immigration benefit, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has said that it will also accept photocopies of the passport pages that contain your biographical information, visa, and admission stamp.