Now that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is hopefully behind us and summer is approaching, many foreign nationals will take the opportunity to travel internationally. Whether you travel abroad frequently or just once in a while, don’t forget to check your I-94 every time you return to the US.
Where can you find your I-94?
Several years ago, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) transitioned to a largely electronic I-94 system. Too often, foreign nationals believe that I-94s aren’t issued anymore because they no longer have the little white cards stapled into their passports. But I-94s are still issued and can be retrieved online.
Why is your I-94 so important?
As we discussed in a prior post, your I-94 is the document that controls the period of time you are lawfully admitted to the US. But mistakes do happen. A lot. If the CBP officer that readmits you to the US incorrectly abbreviates your period of admission, that date still controls. If you don’t check your I-94 each time you reenter the US, you might believe you are authorized to stay in the US longer than you are, leading to an inadvertent overstay that could have consequences down the road.
How can an I-94 error be fixed?
Errors typically can be fixed if caught shortly after admission. In some instances, travel and readmission prior to an abbreviated I-94 expiration can resolve the issue. In other cases, it is necessary to work with CBP to get the I-94 corrected. It is important to note that CBP does not consider abbreviating an I-94 to your passport expiration an error and will not correct it.
So, after your suitcase is unpacked, be sure to check your I-94 and should the validity period or nonimmigrant status listed be anything other than what you expected, contact your immigration attorney immediately to discuss corrective action.