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A Comprehensive Report About H1B I-94
Front view of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office building.

In this article, you will learn about the following topics:

  • What is H1B I-94?
  • Who requires an I-94 record?
  • Form I-94 benefits and details

Before you start reading in detail about the form I-94, you can checkout what the H1B visa process is.

What is H1B Form I-94?

The US Department of State tracks your arrival and departure using the Arrival / Departure Card for the USA, known as Form I-94, when you arrive at the Port of Entry to enter the US via flight at an airport, land, or seaport. An I-94 travel record is issued by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to foreigners coming into the country.

Also known as Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, it is both an electronic and paper document. The I-94 is issued electronically to visitors arriving by air or sea, and the same is issued as a paper document to non-immigrants crossing land borders to enter the country. Until 2013, Form i-94 was issued as a paper document surrendered when the visitors left the country, thereby allowing their departures to be recorded.

If you extend your stay in the United States or adjust your status by
obtaining a green card, the USCIS will issue a new I-94 or other documentation indicating your new status.

Whom is the I-94 issued for?

The CBP automatically issues an I-94 for anyone who enters the US without legal US citizenship. However, certain visitors are exempt from filing form I-94. There are exemptions for those entering the US on:

  • Compact of Free Association
  • The Visa Waiver Program

Other exemptions include people:

  • Utilizing Border Crossing Cards.
  • With valid visa holders who shortly visited the Caribbean, Canada, or Mexico and re-enter the country with automatic revalidation of your visa.
  • Entering the country temporarily as members of an airline flight crew.

Visitors with visa waivers must fill out Form I-94W, and members of flight crews should fill out Form I-95 upon arrival. Both these forms provide travel history, just like the I-94. Kindly check with your CBP officer if any of these situations are applicable to you.

Applying & Acquiring an I-94 Form: The Process

As already mentioned, there are two ways to apply and get an I-94.

1. Obtaining the electronic version of I-94 form

An electronic I-94 card is issued for all foreign visitors (except those exempted) arriving by air or sea. Their passports are also duly stamped to indicate their lawful entry into the US. To know your I-94 online status, please visit the CBP official website to view the online record or download a print of the copy.

2. Obtaining a paper Form I-94 travel record

The CBP still issues I-94 paper records for those entering the US by land. The I-94 in its paper version is a white card attached to the visitor's passport. Paper I-94 is also issued to certain categories of people like:

  • Refugees
  • Parolees
  • Asylees

How To Fill Form I-94

Let's first check out what Form I-94 looks like:

An I-94 has three sections:

  1. Top section with Number
  2. Arrival record section
  3. Departure record section

The CBP officer at your Port of Entry will take the top section with the number and the arrival record. You will get only one part of Form I-94. All three sections will have the I-94 number (the arrival departure number) that is used for tracking your Form I-94 status.

How to Fill Form I-94 Arrival Section?

In this section, you will fill in the following details:

  • Family name
  • First name (as given in your passport and visa)
  • Country of citizenship
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number
  • Country where you reside
  • City where you boarded
  • City where your visa was issued
  • Visa issue date
  • Residential address while in the US
  • City and state

How to Fill Form I-94 Departure Section?

Four details are to be filled in this section:

  1. Family name
  2. First name
  3. Date of birth
  4. Country of citizenship

The CBP officer will take the top section and the arrival section and hand you the departure section of the I-94. Please keep this section carefully and return it when you leave the country.

What is Form I-94 Number?

When the CBP issues you an I-94, you will receive a special code connecting you and your record. It is known as the I-94 number. You will obtain a new number every time you enter the US. Till May 2019, the CBP issued 11-digit numbers. Currently, I-94 numbers are a combination of letters and numbers. However, if you still have an old I-94, it is valid until the " Admit Until Date." The I-94 number will be on your paper and electronic forms.

Also Read: Must-Know List of United States Immigration Forms

Benefits & Cost of Form I-94

Here's a list of some of the important uses of the I-94 Travel Record. Whether you have the electronic or paper I-94, both will show:

  • Your "Admit Until Date" which indicates your duration of stay in the US.
  • Your legal entry and departure into and from the United States.
  • Your I-94 details, which you will need for certain government processes like obtaining your driver's license.

What is the Cost of Form I-94?

Obtain the original Form I-94 or a copy does not cost any fee. They are free of cost. The CBP will issue this Form irrespective of how you enter the US (by sea, air, or land)

Provisional I-94

Want to minimize your waiting time and simplify the process at the Port of Entry? Go for Provisional Form I- 94. You can apply online for a provisional I-94 one week or earlier before you arrive at a land border port of entry if you're using that mode of entry. The cost of obtaining a provisional I-94 is $6.

Records before May 2013 can be requested by presenting Form i-102. This Form is officially known as "Application for Replacement / Initial Non-Immigrant Arrival-Departure Document." The filing fee for this Form is $445.

Expired I-94s: What Happens?

Staying in the US even after your Form I-94 expires could invite serious consequences. You could be barred from entering the US for at least three years. In the worst-case scenario, you could be arrested for overstaying your legal duration and deported to your country. The date indicated on your I-94 is the absolute last date for staying legally in the country. Once you remain past that date, you are deemed "out of status.'

Below is a detailed compilation of the consequences of overstaying your date on Form I-94. You can be:

  1. Banner from entering the US for three years if you leave the country after an unlawful presence of more than 180 days.
  2. Barred for ten years if you stay for more than a year and leave the country.
  3. Permanently barred from entering the country if you try to enter the country without lawfully applying for it or for trying to cross borders illegally after deportation.

What is Form I-102?

Those who have arrived in the US before April 30th, 2013, will have received Form I-94 on paper. The CBP's official website will not have an electronic copy of this record. If you require an electronic copy of I-94, you must fill out Form I-102, otherwise known as " Application for new or Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document". You should mail the completed Form to the USCIS. If the agency has your I-94 record, it will send you a copy within 75 days. Unfortunately, Form I-102 comes with a filing fee of $445.

The Takeaway

To remain legally in the US on your non-immigration visa status, it is important to know about Form I-94 and how it works.
We hope this article gave you in-depth insights regarding the same.

Please find more detailed information about US non-immigrant visas on our TechFetch H1B website.

**Disclaimer : All US immigration policies and procedures are subject to change. Kindly refer to the USCIS official website for the latest information regarding admission, documents, and other instructions.**

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