When you enter the country, you sometimes get a stamp, and you sometimes don’t… Do you know what it means and do you know what you absolutely MUST do every single time you enter to stay within the law?

I-94 sounds like a nonsense sequence of letters and numbers but turns out they’re incredibly important if you’re here (and not a citizen).

They control how long you’re allowed to stay in the country. They are the ABSOLUTE limit.


Doug will tell you more!

Video Transcript

Josh: I can check my current I-94 status online.

Doug: True.

Josh: Hi, I’m America Josh and this is Learning with New friends.

When I arrive at the US border and I’ve got my visa and I’m ready to go and I arrive at the guy/woman at the desk and they stamp. I know that has a date on it and it has some details. Do you mind explaining what the date means? Sometimes I’ve heard that dates can go longer than visas.

Doug: Yeah they will place a small stamp in the passport showing that you entered. Usually, they’ll handwrite the visa that you want.

Josh: So I’d say E-3 or something like that

Doug: Right. In terms of an expiration date they may or may not handwrite the expiration date.

Josh: I know I’ve had both. Sometimes it seems like part of it but sometimes I’m just scribbling.

Doug: Yeah. Sometimes they’ll scribble something but that’s not really what ultimately controls. It’s not really important. Whatever they’re pressing down in your passport is not really what’s important. What’s important is the I-94. The I-94 is what the Customs and Border Patrol issues to individuals entering the United States and the I-94 captures the visa that the individual used to enter the United States, captures the date that you entered, and the period that you’re allowed to remain within the United States.

Josh: I think we can put right here. There’ll be a web address i94.cbp.dhs.gov, where people can find their own I-94.

Doug: That’s something they should do after every entry for a couple of reasons.

  1. They should be aware of when they have to depart; and
  2. They want to make sure that a record exists.

Not often times but sometimes there can be errors when entering and some people are not entered into the system or they’re entered into the system incorrectly. So, you get an E3 visa stamp, but for some reason, the officer admits you in the F1 visa status or they admit you for the wrong period of time.

Josh: So, it’s good to be on top of it.

Doug: You want to be on top of that because if there is an error you want to get that corrected

Josh: So, they log onto the website that we’re listing below here, they put in there. I think their passport, their date of birth and name and it will list your most recent arrivals and your most recent I-94.

If there’s something wrong with that is that something they should call a lawyer about. Or is that something that goes straight to CBP?

Doug: No. They can go straight to CBP. Well first if they’re unsure what’s wrong or they think there’s something wrong but they’re not sure then maybe they should talk to a lawyer.

Probably best to talk to a lawyer before they start bringing up CBP