The U.S Custom and Border Protection (CBP) on March 27, 2013 published an interim final rule to automate the form I-94 (Arrival and Departure record). Currently, aliens entering the United States are required to fill the form I-94 at the time of entry into the US and show subsequently to prove their legal presence in the US.
The proposed rule that is slated to tentatively go into effect in the last week of April, will allow for the information entered by or on behalf of the traveller on the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) at the time of checking in. The information collected by the APIS has the information required on a form I-94.
With the implementation of the rule, the CBP will create electronic I-94 records for aliens entering the United States by air or sea (with some exceptions) that travellers will be able to print off the net on a website expected to be active by April 20, 2013.
This change does bring in a completely new dimension to the way things have traditionally operated. Recognizing this the CBP has clarified that a print out from the website of the travellers arrival and departure record will be an acceptable document amongst others to:
- Prove legal presence in the US
- Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)
- Complete the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) process
- Apply for a Driver’s License and other Immigration benefits
- Create Rental Agreements (should it be required)
- Securing School Admissions
- Presenting to a University to verify Eligibility for Enrollment.
The benefits of this change are manifold. Right from the huge amount of money saved, reduction in paperwork involved, time spent, and ease of verification of an alien’s legal status in the US. The digitization of the I-94 form should make life easier for officials as well as aliens.
However, as is with every new process, till such time the new process stabilizes it is recommended that aliens keep a copy of the printout with them so that they can prove their legal status to concerned officials as and when required.