Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the Form I-94 and its significance for nonimmigrants in the United States. 

In this digital era of immigration, understanding the importance of the Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, is crucial for maintaining lawful status and ensuring your compliance with visa regulations. 

To further understand the I-94, please join us as we embark on a journey to decode the I-94 form, unravel its complexities, and empower you with the knowledge you need to navigate the United States immigration landscape with confidence.

Please remember that this article does not provide any lawful advice. If you would like to discuss your immigration situation, please speak with the immigration attorney. If you would like to speak with our lawyer, please contact us here.

Introduction to the I-94 Form

The Form I-94, officially known as the Arrival-Departure Record is a paper or electronic document issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to foreign visitors entering the United States. Its main purpose is to track the arrival and departure of noncitizens traveling to the United States. 

Why It Matters?

While the I-94 may seem innocuous, it holds immense importance for nonimmigrants, because it serves as your lawful record of admission to the United States after crossing a port of entry. Additionally, it outlines your duration of authorized stay, or ‘admit until date,’ which is the date by which you must leave the United States to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws. The amount of time you are authorized to remain in the United States will depend on your class of admission. The document also contains your I-94 admission record number, your class of admission, and other traveler information. 

Originally administered as a paper-based form, the I-94 has undergone significant modernization in recent years, transitioning to an electronic format accessible online. This transformation reflects the ongoing efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to streamline immigration procedures, enhance security measures, and improve the overall experience for travelers. 

Who Receives the I-94 Form

A Form I-94 is issued to all foreign visitors traveling to the United States except for U.S. Citizens, returning resident aliens, aliens with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens visiting or in transit. Travelers are issued an I-94 during the admission process at the port of entry, after presenting their passport and visa to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent. 

Foreigners admitted by air or sea are automatically issued an electronic I-94 travel record upon their arrival. They also receive a stamp in their passport as proof of their lawful entry into the country, including the ‘admit until date’ indicating the date when the traveler must leave the United States. 

Previously, some foreigners received a paper I-94 such as those entering the country by land. In recent years, however CBP has discontinued this practice and transitioned to an electronic-based system, although some foreigners arriving by land may still receive a paper version of the I-94 attached to their passport at the port of entry. 

Unveiling the New Features of the Revised I-94 Form

As mentioned above, one of the most significant changes to the form is its transition from a paper-based format to an electronic system. This shift has revolutionized the way travelers access and manage their arrival-departure records, offering greater convenience and efficiency.

Key features of the revised I-94 form include:

  1. Electronic Format: The form is now issued electronically upon a foreign national’s admission to the United States at a port of entry. Travelers can access and print their I-94 records online through the official CBP website, eliminating the need for paper forms and manual processing.
  2. Automation and Integration: The electronic I-94 system is seamlessly integrated with other immigration databases, allowing faster verification and processing of arrival-departure records. This automation reduces errors and enhances the accuracy of immigration data.
  3. Real-Time Updates: With the electronic system, travelers receive real-time updates on their arrival-departure records, including any changes or amendments made by CBP officials. This ensures that individuals can access the most up-to-date information regarding their immigration status.
  4. Improved Accessibility: The online platform for accessing I-94 records is designed to be user-friendly and accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Travelers can easily retrieve their arrival-departure records and print copies for their records or immigration-related purposes.

The Vital Role of I-94 for Nonimmigrants

From providing proof of legal entry to determining the duration of authorized stay, the I-94 serves several important functions:

Vital RoleDescription
Proof of Legal Entry– Official documentation of legal entry into the United States. – Contains date of entry, duration of stay, class of admission, and traveler information.
Duration of Authorized Stay– Specifies the duration of authorized stay in the U.S. (also known as the ‘admit until date’) – Determined based on visa classification and purpose of visit.
Class of Admission– Indicates the individual’s class of admission in the U.S. based on the U.S. visa classification.

By maintaining accurate records and adhering to the conditions outlined in the I-94, individuals can ensure lawful compliance with U.S. immigration law during their stay in the country.

Navigating Your I-94 Information: Access and Interpretation

Learning how to access your arrival-departure record and interpret its contents is essential to stay informed and comply with visa regulations.

Step 1: Accessing Your I-94 Information

  • Visit the official website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • Navigate to the I-94 retrieval page.
  • Enter your legal name, date of birth, passport number and country of citizenship.
  • Access your I-94 record online.

Step 2: Interpreting Your I-94 Record

  • Review your admission number, most recent date of entry, class of admission, duration of stay, and other information for accuracy. 
  • Ensure the information aligns with your visa status and travel history.

Step 3: Verifying Your I-94 Information

  • Double-check for errors or discrepancies in your record.
  • Address any inaccuracies immediately.
  • Contact CBP or consult with an immigration attorney if needed.

By following these steps, you can effectively navigate your I-94 information, stay informed and ensure compliance with United States visa regulations.

Addressing Common Issues with I-94 and How to Resolve Them

Encountering issues with your record can be concerning, but knowing how to address them effectively is essential for maintaining your legal status in the United States.  From discrepancies in entry information to unique challenges that may arise for Mexican nationals, we’ll guide you through the process of navigating your I-94 information and ensuring compliance with United States visa regulations.

Issue 1: I-94 Not Reflecting the Most Recent Entry

Problem: Your I-94 doesn’t accurately reflect your latest entry into the United States. This discrepancy can arise due to errors made by CBP officials during the entry process.


  • Visit CBP’s Information Center Online: If visiting in person is not feasible, navigate to the CBP Information Center online. Select “Ask a Question,” to request a correction to your I-94. You may explain the issue you are facing in the contact form and upload any relevant documentation. Provide documentation like your passport and entry stamp to support your request. After submitting the contact form, you will be contacted by CBP via email to process the correction. 
  • Visit a CBP/Deferred Inspection Office: Head to a CBP/Deferred Inspection office at the airport or designated locations to request a correction to your I-94 record.

Issue 2: Change of Status Issues for Mexican Applicants

Problem: Mexican nationals face unique challenges obtaining accurate I-94 records due to their eligibility for a Border Crossing Card (BCC) instead of traditional B1/B2 visas.


  • Declare Intent to Travel Beyond 25 Miles: Mexican applicants must declare their intent to travel beyond 25 miles from the U.S. border to obtain an I-94 record. Failure to do so may result in a limited-duration I-94 or no I-94 at all.
  • Seek Legal Assistance: Given the complexities involved, Mexican nonimmigrants should consider seeking legal assistance from an immigration attorney to navigate the process effectively and ensure compliance with United States immigration laws.

Issue 3: Other Common Issues

Problem: Nonimmigrants may encounter other common issues such as incorrect visa classifications, misspelled names, or outdated information on their I-94 records.


  • Promptly Address Issues: If you identify any discrepancies in your record, such as incorrect visa classifications or outdated information, address them promptly by contacting CBP or seeking legal assistance.

By understanding and proactively addressing these common issues, you can ensure that your record accurately reflects your situation, and you are complying with United States immigration law.

The Crucial Role of I-94 in I-539 Changes/Extensions and Adjustment of Status

Furthermore, understanding the pivotal role of Form I-94  is paramount for individuals seeking to extend their stay or change to a different visa classification.

  • I-539 Changes/Extensions of Nonimmigrant Status: When a nonimmigrant’s duration of authorized stay is nearing expiration as indicated on the alien’s I-94, if they wish to remain in the U.S. in lawful status, they will need to apply to change their visa classification, or extend their authorized period of stay, by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This application must be filed before the I-94 period of stay expires. 

The I-94 plays a crucial role in this process by serving as proof of the individual’s lawful  entry. When applying for a change or extension of their status, individuals must submit their current I-94 record as part of their application to demonstrate compliance with U.S. immigration laws.

  • Adjustment of Status Process: Nonimmigrants who wish to  become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) later in their immigration journey, can make this transition by applying for adjustment of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For this process, the I-94 continues to be  of vital importance, as it is evidence of the individual’s lawful entry and continued compliance with visa regulations. As part of the application process to apply for permanent residence, individuals must submit their current I-94 record to demonstrate their eligibility for adjustment of status. 

By ensuring the accuracy of their I-94 records and complying with visa regulations, individuals can facilitate a smooth transition through these important immigration processes.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

From understanding its significance to navigating common issues associated with the I-94, this record serves as a cornerstone for nonimmigrants to maintain lawful status in the United States. 

As we conclude our journey through the I-94, let’s recap some key takeaways:

  1. Importance of I-94: It is not just a piece of paper; it is a vital document that serves as proof of legal entry, and authorized stay in the United States.
  2. Access and Interpretation: Knowing how to access and interpret your I-94 information is necessary to stay informed about your immigration status and ensure compliance with visa regulations.
  3. Addressing Common Issues: Being aware of common issues, such as discrepancies in entry information or unique challenges for certain nationalities, empowers individuals to take proactive steps to resolve them effectively.
  4. I-539 Changes/Extensions of Nonimmigrant Status and Adjustment of Status: Understanding the role of the I-94 in these processes is crucial for individuals seeking to extend their stay or change to a different visa classification.
  5. Seeking Assistance: When in doubt or facing challenges with your I-94, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that your immigration records accurately reflect your status.

In conclusion, Form I-94 is more than just a record of your entry and stay in the United States; it’s a key to unlocking opportunities and navigating the complexities of the United States immigration system. By understanding its significance and taking proactive steps to address any issues, nonimmigrants can embark on their journeys with confidence and clarity.

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  • Can I retrieve my I-94 record if I entered the United States by land?

    Yes, you can retrieve your record online even if you entered the United States by land. Simply visit the I-94 CBP website, enter your passport information, and access your electronic record. However, if you encounter any issues, you may need to visit a Deferred Inspection site for assistance.
  • Is it possible to extend my stay in the United States if my I-94 is about to expire?

    In some cases, it may be possible to extend your stay in the United States if your duration of stay on your I-94 is about to expire. You can apply for an extension of stay by filing Form I-539 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your current I-94 period of authorized stay expires. However, approval is not guaranteed, and you must meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify for an extension.
  • How long is my I-94 record valid for?

    You may remain in the United States up to the period of authorized stay listed on your I-94 record (also known as the ‘admit until date’). You must depart the United States at the conclusion of the duration of stay, because that is when your authorized period of stay in the U.S. will expire. That is why it is essential for you to monitor your ‘admit until date’ closely and take appropriate action, such as applying for a change of status, extension of stay, or making plans to depart the United States before your stay expires to avoid overstaying your visa in violation of U.S. immigration law.