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Form I-94: Understanding its Purpose and Usage When Entering the US

Pedro Pereira
Posted on Wed Aug 16
5 min read

If you’re planning to spend time in the United States, whether it’s for tourism, education, or business purposes, it’s important to be aware that the entry process to the land of the Stars and Stripes can be quite bureaucratic. This is particularly true due to the fact that US immigration authorities handle a large volume of visa types from various nationalities.

Among the key procedures related to visas and residency, the Form I-94 stands out. If you want to gain a better understanding of its purpose and how to use it, this article provides you with a comprehensive overview of this document and its intricacies. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Form I-94

The Form I-94 essentially serves as a record of arrivals and departures for travelers in the US, replacing the previous method of registration. Its issuance is carried out by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a branch responsible for border protection and customs operations.

Typically, the I-94 is issued electronically. However, for those entering the country by land, it may also be issued in a physical format. When issued electronically, a stamp is placed in the passport as confirmation. In the case of a physical form, a CBP agent attaches the form along with the departure date to the passport.

The Form I-94 ensures that travelers can stay in the US for a specific period and serves as legal proof of legal entry into the country.

Who Needs the Form I-94

In broad terms, non-immigrant foreigners entering the US by land must complete the Form I-94. Non-immigrant visitor passports must receive the I-94 stamp, regardless of whether entry is by sea or air. However, there are four situations in which neither the form nor the I-94 stamp are required:

  • Those entering the country under the Visa Waiver Program
  • Travelers entering the US under the Free Trade Agreement
  • Travelers entering temporarily as crew members using Form I-95
  • Travelers entering with Border Crossing Cards

Furthermore, travelers entering the country through automatic visa revalidation need to present the old Form I-95 instead of obtaining a new one.

The importance of Careful Verification of the I-94

Incorrect issuance of the I-94 can lead to significant problems. Common errors include incorrect visa classification, misspelled names, and incorrect expiration dates on the form.

Filling in incorrect information can result in the expiration of one’s legal status, often without the traveler realizing it. Additionally, the individual might become out of status, making them illegal for a specific period.

Therefore, for those planning an extended stay in the US, paying close attention to accurate form completion is crucial to avoid unpleasant surprises. In extreme cases of data irregularities, the form could expire for up to 180 days, and the person may face challenges returning to the US.

Correcting Errors on the I-94

It is entirely possible to request changes to the I-94 from the CBP, provided the error can be easily proven. Upon detecting an error, it’s advisable to send an email to the CBP office at the airport where immigration was conducted. If email contact isn’t feasible, attempting to correct the I-94 at an official PFC office is recommended.

For the email procedure, describe the issue in the email body and attach a copy of the passport’s biographical page and a copy of the visa. Additionally, include the page where the admission stamp or seal was placed in the passport. Other relevant documents such as the boarding pass, your US phone number, and address should also be attached.

Acessing the Form I-94 Online

Did you know that through the official I-94 website, you can access all relevant information regarding your arrivals and departures from the US in the past five years? If you need evidence for a visitor application, simply access the site to obtain the necessary information. The I-94 number can also be retrieved from the website if it has been lost.

“I-94 Not Found” Message

The Form I-94 has an 11-digit number for all travelers. If you’re unsure or haven’t saved this number in a specific place, you can still retrieve it from the I-94 website. If you’re unable to locate the number in any way, even after redoing the questionnaires, the final option is to contact the nearest Deferred Inspection and Border Protection site in the US for assistance.

Extending the Form I-94

If you’re seeking to extend your stay in the US or change your immigration status during your visit, you must register this with the USCIS. This can be done in two ways: by completing Form I-129 for a non-immigrant worker petition or by filling out Form I-539 to request a status extension. For students wishing to extend their visa period, updating the SEVIS record and obtaining a new I-20 are required.


Now that you have a clearer understanding of the Form I-94 and its role when entering the US, you’re better prepared to navigate this bureaucratic process with confidence. Diligent attention to accurate form completion and taking action to correct errors are crucial to avoid future problems. For reliable information on immigration and related topics, follow our social media channels and stay up to date through our portal!

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