Form I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record)
The Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record, is usually issued to
foreign visitors upon entry to the U.S. to track their dates of arrival
and departure. The I-94 card is extremely important as it is evidence of
an individual's lawful admission to the U.S. in a specific immigration
status. The I-94 card indicates the type of non-immigrant status under
which the individual was admitted to the country, the date and place of
admission, and the length of stay authorized. The card also contains an
eleven-digit identifying number called the admission number
printed on the top left-hand corner, the foreign visitor's name, date of
birth, and country of citizenship. It is surrendered upon departure
from the U.S. and used to verify that the foreign national has not
remained beyond the authorized stay. The I-94 is used with other
immigration-related documents to complete Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) and to determine if the individual is eligible to receive payment while in the U.S.
What does an I-94 card look like?
An I-94 is usually issued at a Port of Entry into the
United States . When an I-94 is received at a Port of Entry (such as a
major airport) then it traditionally is a small white card that is
stapled inside the passport. The small white card will have the words
“I-94 Departure Record” on it. The I-94 card should be stamped with a
location and date. This is where and when the foreign national last came
into the United States . Often, the I-94 will have handwritten
verification of immigration status (e.g. F-1, J-1) and a date of
expiration. Commonly, Canadian citizens have their I-94 stapled to
immigration documents since a passport is not required.
There are currently three different versions of the I-94
card, the most common of which is a small white card (about 4" by 5")
stapled into the foreign passport at the time of arrival. See Figure 1.
Figure 1. Example of Standard I-94 Card
is also testing a new type of I-94 card which is machine issued and
looks very much like an airline boarding pass. In addition, some foreign
nationals are given permission by the Department of Homeland Security to change from one "immigration status" to another after they arrive in the U.S. In these cases, the Department of Homeland Security
issues Form I-797, Notice of Action, to the foreign national which
contains a replacement I-94 card indicating the new immigration status.
See Figure 2. All forms of the I-94 card contain the same information.
Figure 2. Example of I-767 with an I-94 card
Length of Stay
The I-94 card officially determines how long you can stay
in the US and is one of your most important immigration documents. If
there is a date written in the upper right-hand corner of your I-94, you
must apply to extend your stay or leave the US within 60 days of that
date. Extensions of stay must be filed in a timely manner in order to
remain in the U.S. If there is no date on the I-94, but rather the
notation "D/S" (duration of status), you are considered to be in status
for the entire length of time you are enrolled full-time in an
educational program, plus an additional grace period for departure, as
long as your I-20 or DS-2019 is valid. "D/S" does not mean that you can
stay in the US indefinitely. If you lose your I-94, you should
immediately apply for a replacement document.
Limitations of D/S:
1. D/S expires if a student takes longer than expected to
complete an academic level. The amount of time permitted for completing
studies at a given academic level is determined by the date on the
initial I-20 issued at the beginning of each academic program. You must
pay close attention to the expected completion date noted on your I-20
and file for an extension of stay at least 60 days before your present
stay expires. You must apply for an extension of stay from the OISS if
you plan to remain at UNH beyond the date specified on the form I-20. As
mentioned above, there is a 60-day period after the ending of your
program during which you may stay in the US while you prepare to depart.
2. D/S expires if a student does not maintain a full-course of study.
Be sure to consult with OISS staff about any exceptions to avoid the
serious consequences that may result from being out of status.