Expansion of CBP Stampless Entry Program15 May 2023
The U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiated a “stampless” entry pilot program in April 2022, and is now in the process of implementing the program at all airports, seaports, and land ports of entry (POEs) as part of a larger effort to streamline the legal entry process. Under this program, the CBP has stopped using ink stamps in passports to document entries into the United States. While this streamlined process is welcomed by many, the elimination of ink stamps may pose challenges for some foreign nationals as it requires the individual to proactively document all entries into the United States.
Impact of the Stampless Entry Program on Foreign Nationals
A foreign national should always document entries into the United States, and ink stamps in passports have been the best method for doing so. A nonimmigrant visa holder can use ink stamps to demonstrate maintenance of status or available H1B or L-1 recapture time. Additionally, a lawful permanent resident can use ink stamps to demonstrate the length of absence for the purpose of challenging an allegation of green card abandonment or when filing for naturalization. With the stampless entry program, a foreign national no longer will be able to rely on ink stamps in the passport for such purposes.
Options for Foreign Nationals to Document Travel Dates
In the absence of an ink stamp in a passport, a foreign national may use alternative methods to document entries into the United States, including:
- downloading the I-94 that is generated in CBP’s online system after entering the United States.
The individual should review the travel history and take immediate action to correct any inaccuracies. However, this is only an option for nonimmigrants, since lawful permanent resident entries are not entered into the online I-94 system.
- requesting an ink stamp from the CBP officer at the time of entry into the U.S.
CBP officers are still permitted to stamp passports, though officers might not comply with this request.
- retaining contemporaneous evidence of travel to document entries.
Such evidence may include flight boarding cards, flight itineraries, flight status eMails, hotel stays, and other receipts.
Despite the potential benefits of expedited processing with the new system, a foreign national must proactively use alternative methods to document entries to satisfy any evidentiary burdens that arise when applying for immigration benefits.
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