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.

I-94 Sample 1

Figure 1. Example of Standard I-94 Card

The Department of Homeland Security

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.

I-94 Sample 2
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.

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