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I-94s Go Electronic: What it means for Travelers and Employers
Posted 05.16.13
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Valentine A. Brown
Partner
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On May 1, 2013 US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began the roll-out of its new electronic I-94 system. By the end of May, paper I-94s will be eliminated for all foreign national travelers except those entering at land border ports. This means that any foreign national traveler entering the United States at an air or sea port, will receive only a notation in their passport with their entry date, type of status and the expiration date of their stay. Information will be recorded and retrieved by CBP by scanning the traveler’s passport. Upon exiting the United States, travelers do not need to do anything differently.  Those with a paper I-94s will continue to surrender them  to the commercial carrier or CBP upon departure and those who entered with the new process will have their departure recorded via electronic manifest.

Accessing I-94 Records: To verify the information contained in an electronic Form I-94, travelers should go here to review their record. Travelers are also advised to  print out a paper copy of the electronic I-94 information for their records. This record will only be available until the traveler’s next entry into the United States, so it is imperative for foreign nationals who intend on seeking visa extensions or legal permanent residence to maintain accurate and complete electronic I-94 records. Any errors discovered should be immediately reported to nearest CBP  office so that they may be quickly corrected.

Maintaining Accuracy: In the new process, CBP will be relying heavily on the manifest arrival and departure records provided by the airlines to record entry and departure information for foreign national travelers. As a result it is imperative to ensure that  personal information such as name and date of birth is correct and consistent throughout the traveler’s documents and travel record.

 I-9 Completion: The new electronic I-94 will make employment eligibility verification and I-9 form completion more complicated.  The new I-9 form with an issue date of March 8, 2013 should be used for all new-hires and re-verifications. On this form, employees with temporary work authorization are now required to include their passport number and the country of issuance on the form. Employers, when completing Section 2, List A should record passport information and visa information.  The expiration date of the employee’s immigration status should be included in the employer’s tickler system so that reverifciation may be completed on time. Be careful not to confuse the expiration date of the passport or visa with the expiration date of the person’s legal immigration status, as these will rarely be the same.

Phased Implementation: Implementation of  electronic I-94s began on April 30, 2013 and will continue through the end of May 2013.  See the Automated I-94 Rollout web page for implementation information and schedules.  During the first week, the system was implemented at Charlotte (NC) International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, Las Vegas International Airport, Miami International Airport and Orlando International Airport.  During the second week, CBP expanded into major air and sea ports by region, including the air sea ports in the New York/Newark, NJ area, Boston and ten other cities. Ports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, among other regions, are being implemented the week of May 14, along with pre-flight clearance stations abroad.  The move to an electronic system is estimated to save the government $15.5 million

For more information on this or any immigration topic, please contact Valentine Brown vbrown@duanemorris.com (215) 979-1840.

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About Valentine A. Brown
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Valentine A. Brown is a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group. She serves as global immigration law counsel to a diverse group of multi-national and domestic corporations and their employees, providing advice, compliance audits and representation to help navigate the intricacies of US and foreign immigration laws. Ms. Brown also represents individuals in all types of immigration proceedings, including persons of extraordinary ability; spouses, fiancées and children of US citizens; naturalization and political asylum applicants; as well as respondents in deportation and immigration appellate proceedings.