Phase Out of Paper I-94 Cards at POEs

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced an end to the use of paper I-94 arrival / departure cards for most travelers. A March 21, 2013 press release states  that the CBP will go live with this plan in the near future. This MurthyDotCom NewsBrief discusses how the switch to a paperless I-94 card system will affect travelers, the I-9 and E-Verify process and other immigration law issues.

Changes will Streamline Admission Process

CBP's goal for the automated I-94 system is to streamline and improve the process by which nonimmigrants are inspected and admitted into the United States at airports and most other ports of entry (POEs). Most arriving visitors will no longer need to fill out white I-94 cards before being processed by a CBP officer. Likewise, CBP will save significant time not having to endorse I-94 cards with handwritten notations and stamps.

I-94 Cards to be Eliminated in April / May 2013

CBP submitted, and the U.S. government's Federal Register has published, an interim final rule to finalize the I-94 card changes. This rule is available online. According to the published rule, the automated I-94 program will begin on April 26, 2013. The CBP estimates that automating I-94 cards will save the agency approximately $15.5 million each year.

Exceptions Where Paper I-94 Cards Will Continue

There are some exceptions included in the interim final rule. Certain classes of travelers, including refugees, asylees, and parolees will continue to receive paper I-94s at POEs.

Paper forms will also be utilized if the CBP determines that it is necessary to do so. The changes do not apply at land ports or for travelers using transportation other than commercial air or sea travel.

Traveler Data will be Available Online

If a traveler wants to obtain printed copies of her/his arrival information, like what has been available on paper I-94 cards, the personal arrival information will be accessible online (beginning in late April 2013). Information from the traveler's passport will be required in order to use this system. It will be possible to print an I-94 document based on the CBP's data. The online card will include the I-94 number to be used where required, such as on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms.

E-Verify Problems may End

As explained in our October 12, 2012 MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Potential Delays in E-Verify Caused by I-94 Automation, there have been problems with the CBP's computer records being updated with the I-94 card information .

During the transition from paper I-94 cards to this new automated system, some individuals might receive the tentative non-confirmation from the USCIS's E-Verify system. This is because, while they are ready and authorized to work, their arrival information was taking up to 30 days to become available through CBP's computer system. It is anticipated that, once the CBP paper I-94 cards are eliminated, these delays will no longer be a problem for individuals and their employers.

Conclusion

We at the Murthy Law Firm appreciate the continuing work by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the CBP to streamline and automate their systems. We hope that this I-94 automation will lead to increased efficiency, reduced wait times for travelers entering the U.S., decreased delays with E-Verify, and increased savings for the U.S. government and tax payers, while also maintaining the security and accuracy of the CBP's inspection and admission process. As with most changes, problems often occur during an initial adjustment period. The Murthy Law Firm will continue to monitor changes to the automated I-94 card and E-Verify systems, to provide updates to MurthyDotCom readers.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.

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