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.
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.
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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