Emerging Issues with I-94 Card Automation

Time and time again, the transition to new systems and technologies brings with it new bumps in the road. Several Murthy Law Firm attorneys attended the 2013 American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Annual conference in San Francisco, California, where there were reports of problems arising from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transition to an automated I-94 arrival / departure card system.

Background: Automation of I-94 Cards

As explained in the NewsBrief Automated I-94 FAQs (24.May.2013), in April and May 2013, CBP phased out the issuance of paper I-94 cards for foreign travelers entering the United States via airports and seaports. This is a major change in the admissions procedure, which has implications for other aspects of the immigration process that typically require the I-94 as proof of status.

Immediately Review Automated I-94s

While the CBP has largely eliminated paper I-94s, individuals can access their I-94s on the CBP WebSite. Travelers are advised to immediately check the I-94 online, once they have been admitted by the CBP. The I-94 information in the CBP system should be verified for accuracy and a copy should be printed out for one’s records. If any information appears to be incorrect, foreign nationals should arrange for corrections to be made, as explained below.

Various Types of Problems Reported

AILA panelists provided anecdotal accounts of difficulties reported by some travelers regarding the automated I-94 system. Some foreign nationals have been unable to locate their I-94s on the CBP WebSite. Others have found errors in the class of admission and/or the status expiration dates. This information, along with the spelling of one’s name, should be checked carefully.

Even if everything is correct, AILA reports ongoing difficulties with foreign nationals applying for drivers’ licenses. Although senior officials from each state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) have been notified of the transition to the paperless I-94s, it appears that this information has not always been successfully communicated to personnel at the customer service level.

Resolving Electronic I-94

The primary manner available to address errors or other issues related to a paperless I-94 is to speak to a CBP representative at a Deferred Inspection site. The CBP maintains a list of Deferred Inspection offices, including contact information and location. An official at the Deferred Inspection site should be able to find the information and, if needed, make corrections in the system.

Another option is to make a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) InfoPass appointment. The USCIS may be able to find the information on record for the individual. However, corrections must be made by CBP.

One other possible option takes advantage of the fact that, at this time, the land ports of entry still issue paper I-94s. Depending upon where one lives and the difficulty and urgency of the problem faced, one may be able to leave the United States and return via a land port of entry in order to obtain a new, presumably corrected I-94 card. However, it may be advisable to consult with an immigration attorney before pursuing this option.


It is clear that the best course of action to be taken by foreign nationals entering the United States is to check and print out their automated I-94 information. It is almost always easier to correct problems that are detected promptly. The Murthy Law Firm remains available to advise on issues related to the automated I-94 card system and help individuals obtain corrections.

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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.