CBP Begins Implementation of Form I-94 Automation
The I-94 Form has always been one of the most critical documents in a foreign traveler’s possession. It documents where the person was admitted to the U.S., how they were admitted, and how long they can stay. Traditionally, this form was filled out by hand on paper I-94 cards upon entry into the U.S. As of this month, however, CBP has effectively retired paper I-94 cards at air and sea ports of entry (but not land ports of entry) across the nation.
Under the new automated system, CBP will automatically access traveler information from airline and sea travel companies and electronically enter this information into an electronic version of the form. Travelers will still proceed through customs and immigration and have their passports stamped for arrival. The passport stamps will have the information traditionally contained in the paper I-94 cards, and will serve the same purpose.
Upon entering the U.S., travelers will be given instructions on accessing their electronic records on CBP’s website at www.cbp.gov/i94. We highly recommend that travelers print a hard copy of their I-94 records immediately after their arrival. This will ensure having a backup document in case technological issues arise or if a paper document showing entry into the United States is needed for other immigration purposes.
The I-94 card also serves a record of departure from the U.S. This is important if travelers wish to reenter at a later date because it shows that they complied with their authorized stay on prior trips. People who have received paper I-94 cards will continue to surrender those cards at the time they depart the U.S. People who have automated I-94 records will not have anything to surrender. Instead, their departures from air or seaports will be automatically recorded by departure information provided by air and sea carriers. Departures by land (i.e., through Canada or Mexico) will not be automatically recorded. Therefore, any traveler with an automated I-94 will need to ask the Canadian or Mexican immigration officials to stamp their passports to document departure from the U.S.
International Students Will Face Increased Scrutiny Upon Return to the U.S.
After the Boston marathon bombing, it was revealed that an international student associated with the bombing was allowed to re-enter the country despite not having valid student status. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for overseeing peoples’ entry into the U.S., has implemented new guidelines which may significantly delay travelers entering the U.S. in F-1 status.
Before these new guidelines, CBP agents would not access information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to verify the active student status of travelers. Instead, SEVIS would only be accessed if the student were referred to a secondary inspection. According to an internal memorandum from a senior official at Customs and Border Protection (CBP), all F-1 visa holders arriving to the United States will now have their student status thoroughly checked before being allowed to enter the U.S. This means that all F-1 visa holders must allow for additional time to go through immigration processing.
Significant Update in Visa Activity
The Visa Bulletin for June 2013 has great news for many people waiting in line under the worldwide employment-based third category for professionals, skilled, and unskilled workers. The Visa Bulletin provides information regarding the cut-off dates for visa availability in the specific visa categories and other immigrant visa related information. Employment based visas are issued based on various categories based on the applicants’ educational and professional status, or on special needs requirements as set forth by the Department of State. The first category (EB-1) are priority workers, the second category (EB-2) include members of professions holding advanced degrees or persons of exceptional ability, and the third category (EB-3) are other skilled workers, professionals, and other workers not meeting the requirements for being in the first two categories. Other categories for special immigrants, religious workers, and other employees exist as well.
After advancing 5 months in May, worldwide EB-3 jumps forward 10 more months to September 1, 2008. Compared to this quick turnover the India EB-3 priority date advanced only 2 weeks and The EB-3 category for the Philippines moved ahead only 1 week. The worldwide EB-2 category remains current (no backlog), but while EB-2 PRC advanced 8 weeks, EB-2 India did not move at all.
The proposed Senate reform bill would eliminate all per-country EB quotas which would significantly increase movement for Indian, Chinese, Mexican, and Filipino nationals under the 2nd, 3rd, and other categories. This change will only be implemented if the Senate proposed bill is passed by Congress.
The chart below shows the current status of visa activity:
|Employment- Based ||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed ||CHINA- Mainland Born ||INDIA ||MEXICO ||PHILIPPINES |
|1st ||Current ||Current ||Current ||Current ||Current |
|2nd ||Current ||15-JUL-08 ||01-SEP-04 ||Current ||Current |
|3rd ||01-SEP-08 ||01-SEP-08 ||08-JAN-03 ||01-SEP-08 ||22-SEP-06 |
|Other Workers ||01-SEP-08 ||22-OCT-03 ||08-JAN-03 ||01-SEP-08 ||22-SEP-06 |
|4th ||Current ||Current ||Current ||Current ||Current |
|Certain Religious Workers ||Current ||Current ||Current ||Current ||Current |
Regional Centers and Pilot Programs
|Current ||Current ||Current ||Current ||Current |
If you have questions about the new automated I-94 system, or any other immigration issue, please contact one of the attorneys at the Dyer Immigration Law Group.