The most
significant white I-94 card stapled to the visa of passports for nonimmigrant
foreign nationals in land and seaports around the United States is a familiar
image to many travelers.  This form is
used to prove admission to the United States and determines the length of time
one many stay. The United States Customs and Border Protection recently
announced its implementation of a new automated I-94 entry process, effective April
30, 2013
where the I-94 becomes
paperless.  What does this change mean
for travelers and governmental processes?

The US
Department of Homeland Security cites that this new measure will, "streamline
the entry process for travelers, facilitate security and reduce federal costs,
saving the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year".  This will decrease the usual paperwork
substantially both for travelers and immigration officers.  While some people are under the impression
that this signifies a complete change and may worry about the unavailability of
these forms for reference, that is not the case.  Travelers requesting the document as evidence
of admission for an immigration matter, proof of status, applying for a
driver's license in some states, work authorization, personal record or any
other reason will be able to have the hard copy.  The printed copy will be available on www.cbp.gov/I94 to retrieve
their electronically submitted data.  Moreover,
officers will continue to issue the usual admission stamp on passports,
accompanied by a note detailing the nonimmigrant's status and time
authorization of the visit.

In recent years
with the green revolution and our efforts at becoming more environmentally
friendly, traveler information is gradually being accumulated through
electronic databases so the paperless I-94 is not a new idea.  Post 9/11 initiatives have already aimed at
accumulating more data on the population; so much of the traveler's identities
have been in the government's data system for quite some time. 

As with every
new measure the paperless I-94 initiative will necessitate some time to be
fully adjusted and applied throughout the United States.  Travelers will have to:

  • Find access to
    the Internet.

  • Enter certain
    passport information in order to access the electronic I-94. 

  • Companies and
    employers will have to learn to accept the hard copy printouts of the
    electronic I-94 data. 

However, the
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will still require the hard
copy I-94 from applicants even if the visitor does not receive the copy upon
entry.  Other government agencies such as
the Social Security Administration will also require a paper copy to ascertain
whether a foreign national may receive certain benefits.

Ultimately, even
though initially some slight complications may emerge on all fronts:  travelers, companies, and government agencies
will have to adjust to the new change as a better alternative.  So many facets of our everyday lives are
becoming automated and a development such as a paperless I-94 is
inevitable.  The economic and practical
benefits substantially outweigh the initial costs of adjusting to the change.

To view the
implementation schedule at various ports, please see the following link:


Attached Files