I-94 will be going paperless in 2013

Nearly all foreign citizens visiting the United States have to fill out an I-94, which is the Arrival/Departure Record used by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On March 21st, CBP announced that the I-94s, which had recently been updated for ease of use, would become electronically automated or paperless. Instead of visitors having to fill out and officers having to manually stamp the form upon entry, CBP will automatically receive the information from each traveler's electronic travel itinerary. Similarly, visitors will no longer need to surrender the I-94 upon departure because their exit information will be automatically recorded from manifest information sources.

However, there are some issues that travelers still need to be aware of. First, the automated process applies only with regards to air and sea travelers. This is because advance information is only available for those methods of transportation; as a result, CBP will still issue paper I-94s to visitors who enter through land border port of entries. Secondly, as a result of the automated process, travelers who come by air/sea will not be given a hard copy of the I-94 as evidence of their legal entry. Should such documentation be wanted or necessary, for example to verify entry and work authorization, the traveler will need to go to www.cbp.gov/I94 to receive it.

Throughout April and May of 2013, CBP will slowly phase in the new Form I-94 process. Over the course of 4 weeks, a number of pilot ports, followed by other major centers, will begin to use the new system. The schedule, as posted by the CBP, can be seen below.

Week 1

4/30/13

Charlotte Douglas International Airport,
Orlando International Airport,
Las Vegas Airport,
Chicago O'Hare and
Miami International Airport

Week 2

5/07/13

Major Air and Sea Ports within the following field offices:
New York,
Boston,
Buffalo,
Baltimore,
Detroit,
Atlanta,
Tampa,
Puerto Rico,
Miami,
Chicago,
New Orleans and
Houston

Week 3

5/14/13

Major Air and Sea ports within the following field offices:
Pre-Clearance,
San Francisco (includes Hawaii and Guam),
Tucson,
El Paso,
Seattle,
Portland (includes Alaska),
Los Angeles,
San Diego and
Laredo

Week 4

5/21/13

All remaining airports and seaports