Oh Where Has My I-94 Gone?

Recently I received a question from a prospective client:

Question:  “I came here legally and I am engaged to marry a U.S. citizen.  The problem is that I can’t find my I-94 Arrival/Departure record.  I know that I need to prove that I came here legally.  How do I prove this without my I-94?”

Answer:  An I-94 Form is the arrival/departure record issued by U.S. Customs & Border Patrol to non-immigrant visitors who are admitted to the U.S.  This is an important record. Among other uses, it offers proof that the non-immigrant visitor entered the U.S. legally.  The I-94 is used by non-immigrants who are adjusting status while in the U.S., extending their stay, or changing their immigration category/status, etc.  Traditionally, a CBP officer would attach a physical I-94 to the non-immigrant visitor’s passport upon entry into the U.S.

However, as of April 30, 2013, in the interest of efficiency (no more lost or illegible paper I-94s!) and cost reduction, the CBP has automated the I-94 at air and sea ports of entry.  The paper form is no longer provided upon arrival, except in limited circumstances.  Travelers are now given a CBP admission stamp on their travel document.  With the new I-94 automation the paper form is created in electronic format; not provided to the visitor.

So because you are asking about a lost I-94 and not a lost passport, I am assuming that you entered the U.S. before April 30, 2013; therefore you had the traditional paper I-94.

To get the proof that you legally entered the U.S., you may pursue a couple of routes:

  1. You can go to cbp.gov/I94; plug your query into the prompts to receive a copy of your travel record (I-94s) for the past 5 years.  CBP does not charge a fee for this service.  Or…
  2. If your form cannot be obtained from the CBP’s website, you may apply for a paper replacement I-94 on USCIS Form I-120, Application for Replacement/Nonimmigrant Arrival Departure Document. The I-120 can be downloaded from the USCIS’s website.  There is a $330 fee for the USCIS to process your request.  Or…
  3. If you want the entire record of your U.S. travel history (including your I-94 records) you may file a Freedom of Information Act Request. This is an important document to have when you are planning to file for an U.S. immigration benefit.  Once you receive your Request you should speak with an able fiance spouse visa lawyer to analyze your FOIA results and plan a visa strategy based on its contents.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please email me at Jamene@fiancespousevisalawyer.com.


Many thanks,

Jamene Christian,

The Fiance Spouse Visa Lawyer,