Non-immigrant visitors to the United States will no longer be handed a paper "I-94 card" at customs.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection -- the agency of the Department of Homeland Security charged with controlling and protecting U.S. borders at all official ports of entry -- has automated the I-94 arrival and departure form and placed it online.
The I-94 form provides foreign visitors with evidence that they have been lawfully admitted to the country, which is needed to verify alien registration, immigration status and employment authorization.
Non-immigrant foreign nationals will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea. The Customs agency will generate records of admission using traveler information already transmitted through electronic means. Agents also will stamp the passports of foreign nationals.
Customs phased in the change at airports and sea ports over a month-long period earlier this year. (Foreign nationals who cross into the United States by land from Canada and Mexico will continue to receive I-94 cards.)
Going paperless will save the government millions of dollars and speed up entry into the United States for visitors.
But what about foreign nationals in need of proof of their status to apply for a driver's license, Social Security number or employment eligibility verification? Travelers who want or need a hard copy of their I-94 can print it off at Custom's website at www.cbp.gov/I94. Many foreign nationals, especially those on business or working, may feel more comfortable keeping a hard copy of the I-94 with their passports or other travel documents.
-- Joel Pfeffer, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org
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