New I-94 Website Feature Helps Foreign Nationals Avoid Overstaying in the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has recently announced that they will now remind travelers via email and a new feature on the I-94 website of the last possible date they must depart the U.S. to comply with the terms of their admission. Currently, only eligible Visa Waiver Program travelers can utilize the new “Compliance Check” feature on the I-94 website to check how much longer they can legally remain in the U.S. without overstaying the terms of their admission. However, CBP has advised that further updates to the I-94 website are expected to incorporate additional nonimmigrant travelers.

To check the status of their admission in the U.S., eligible travelers can visit the I-94 website, click on the “View Compliance” icon and enter their name, birthdate, passport number and passport country of issuance. This check will inform travelers of how many days are remaining on their admission or how many days they have remained in the U.S. past their admitted until date.

If a traveler has overstayed the terms of their admission, the new I-94 website feature will provide the individual with information regarding what to do next. An overstay is someone who was lawfully admitted to the U.S. for an authorized period, but remained in the U.S. beyond his or her lawful period of admission. Overstaying the terms of your admission is significant as many overstays are not eligible to adjust or extend their status in the U.S. and in some cases, may trigger unlawful presence bars when they ultimately depart the U.S.

Although the new “Compliance Check” feature is currently only available to eligible Visa Waiver Program travelers, all travelers can check their admit until date on the I-94 website. To check their admit until date, travelers can click the “Get Most Recent I-94” icon and enter their traveler information (name, birthdate, passport number and passport country of issuance). It is important for travelers to be advised of their admit until date as periods of admission can vary widely depending on the traveler’s class of admission and/or visa type. For example, individuals traveling to the U.S. as B1/B2 visitors are admitted for a fixed period of time whereas students traveling to the U.S. in F-1 status are admitted for duration of status (D/S), which is based on the completion of a degree program.

Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, is of utmost importance for nonimmigrant visitors as it provides proof of their lawful admission to the U.S., which is necessary to verify alien registration, immigration status and employment authorization. Notably, in May 2013, CBP automated the I-94 system for travelers arriving to the U.S. by air and sea. The automated system eliminated the need for paper forms and manual data entry by allowing CBP Officers to create the I-94 record at the time of inspection.

More recently, in September 2016, CBP also launched an online I-94 application and payment option for travelers arriving at a land port of entry. Individuals may provide their biographic and travel information and pay the $6 fee online up to seven days prior to their entry.

These changes/upgrades to the I-94 system demonstrate CBP’s continued commitment towards improving the international travel experience for both U.S. citizens and visitors to the U.S. The new I-94 website feature makes it much easier for travelers to find their last possible departure date and to comply with their terms of admission.