Form I-94 - Everything You Need to Know| North Loop Official Blog
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17 Nov 2020

Form I-94 - Everything You Need to Know

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Introduction -

If you are planning a trip to the United States soon, you should know the paramount importance of the Form I-94 to the success of your trip or immigration attempts and also learn how to get this form. In this article, we have created a complete guideline to help you for the same.

What is the I-94 form?

Form I-94 is called an arrival/departure form and is an official document issued by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Earlier it could get procured as a physical form, but after May 2019, that got changed, and now you can go for I-94 form online application. You can still request a physical copy, but it is not required anymore.

The CBP issues a unique alphanumeric I-94 number that consists of 11 characters. The first nine and the last are digits while the 10th character is a letter. Now that we know what is I-94 form, let us look at the differences between it and I-94W.

How is Form I-94 different from I-94W?

The primary difference lies in the fact that, while Form I-94W used to get issued for travellers on arrival from countries that are a part of the Visa Waiver Program, the Form I-94 gets issued for everybody. It also used to come in a physical form just like I-94 but only for travellers who were part of a visa waiver program. However, this form has gotten discontinued and is no longer in use.

Form I-94 is also no longer a physical document. That means you do not have to complete a physical form upon your arrival or departure to the United States. The US government keeps your travel authorization records in an electronic system known as the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The details of your travel get captured and recorded on this system for reference purposes.

You should also know that the I-94 immigration form does not replace a visa. It serves an entirely different purpose which is to record your entries and departures at US borders. Therefore, you need both - a visa as well as your I-94 card to be present in US territory. The initial issuing of your form also depends on your visa during that time. For example, some visas like a tourist visa allow multiple entries and exits for a specific period but the ‘Admit until Date’ could end before your visa validity. However, that doesn’t mean that you will not be able to re-enter in the future. It only requires you to exit the country and enter again at a later stage.

How to get I-94?

If you want to know how to get I-94 and the I-94 form online application method, then continue to read further.

Firstly, you need to understand that you cannot enter the US without a visa. Also, you should complete your I-94 form online application at least seven days before your arrival. That not only helps to expedite the process but also saves time at the border crossing. You can also pay the fee online to save some more time and effort when the CBP processes your arrival information.

However, it does not guarantee an I-94 and only helps to eliminate the required administrative processes when you arrive.
Once you reach a US border, the CBP officials process your details and determine whether you are eligible to get a Form I-94 or not.

I-94 documents -

The I-94 documents that you will need to get an I-94 card are as follows -

Valid visa
Ticket confirming your mode of travel

You can also get requested to produce a few other documents that primarily depend on your visa and the conditions that apply to it. Once the processing gets completed, the CBP officials upload the details into their ETSA system. That creates your digital I-94 card. However, you do not receive a physical copy of the same. The CBP officer stamps the passport to confirm admission into the US after the necessary processing and confirmation. The stamp indicates your admission date.

Form I-94 processing time -

I-94 immigration form gets processed within two days, and you can then access it on the official website.

Conclusion -

We hope this article helped you in understanding the significance of the form and the documents that are required to complete it.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended be advice. You must obtain professional advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, investment or other professional advice from North Loop or its affiliates. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date. All opinions expressed do not reflect the views of North Loop nor are endorsed by North Loop.