The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced plans to eliminate Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Form I-94 is the white card that is completed by non-immigrants upon arrival in the U.S. and surrendered upon their departure. Its main purpose is to document proper admission and maintenance of status. One of the reasons cited by CBP for eliminating Form I-94 is the fact that it already has access to the data gathered on Form I-94, including information that is gathered through the visa application process at the U.S. consulate, as well as data provided to CBP through the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), a web-based system used by transportation carriers. Another reason is that CBP hopes to reduce time and money by eliminating Form I-94 as it costs an estimated $36 million a year in labor and resources to print, store, and enter the data.
CBP anticipates an immediate system-wide elimination of the form beginning later this summer. It plans to issue an admission stamp in the passports of nonimmigrant aliens which will include a handwritten notation indicating the status and authorized period of stay. CBP will also create an electronic record for arriving nonimmigrant aliens, and may consider creating a web portal to allow nonimmigrant aliens to verify their status and print an admission record receipt. Nonimmigrants arriving at air and sea ports using APIS will no longer receive a Form I-94 (However, during this transitional period, CBP may continue to issue the paper form even though it will not serve any actual function). Nonimmigrant arriving at a land border, unless otherwise exempted, will continue to receive a valid paper Form I-94. Also certain classes of individuals, such as refugees, will continue to be issued a valid Form I-94.
It currently remains to be seen how CBP will meet the challenges of administering these new procedures and how it will impact USCIS, employers, the Social Security Administration, and other agencies that currently rely on the Form I-94 for proof of alien status, employment eligibility, and identification purposes.