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Automation of the Form I-94 is happening at last. Until now, one of the most important immigration documents in anyone’s possession was Form I-94, a little white or green card also called the Arrival/Departure Record. The I-94 has been issued to virtually every foreign citizen entering the United States, by means of a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer attaching it to the entrant’s passport. I-94s are also given out within the U.S., to immigrants who have adjusted status (been approved for lawful permanent residence or a green card) or extended their status, as well as to people approved for asylum status.
As a reader of Nolo’s books, you may be familiar with the various times when it’s important to have an I-94, such as:
Given its importance for these various purposes, losing one’s I-94 card could be a problem. With the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) interim final rule (announced in the March 27, 2013 Federal Register, however, most immigrants will no longer have to worry about keeping track of this little card.
Arriving visitors will neither have to fill out a form nor be given a piece of paper. Their information will be entered into a CBP database, partly by means of scanning their passport. If you need or want a physical copy of your I-94, you will be able to download it from www.cbp.gov/I94. Departures will be recorded within the new system based on information passed to DHS from the commercial air or sea carriers.
The new automated system has exceptions, however. You may still receive a paper I-94 if you enter the U.S.:
For more information, see the March 21, 2013 CBP press release. Or see an immigration lawyer if you have issues concerning your I-94 card.