September 21, 2012:
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has accelerated a plan to stop issuing I-94 arrival-departure cards to non-immigrants entering the U.S. and replace it with an automated arrival system.
Presently, form I-94 is issued to most nonimmigrant foreign nationals entering the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa. It governs the individual’s period of stay and contains his/her nonimmigrant status, the expiration date of the stay, and an identifying number.
Along with a valid foreign passport, the I-94 is one of the documents used to determine employment eligibility on form I-9 and in the e-verify database. Additionally, several federal and state agencies use form I-94 to verify eligibility for benefits, including a social security number and driver’s license among others. USCIS also requires immigrants to carry around their card as proof of status.
Instead of issuing the card, travelers will receive a passport stamp annotated with immigration status and date of period of stay and when it expires. However, foreign nationals entering at land ports of entry, as well as refugees and some other classes of foreign nationals will still receive a functional I-94.
Presently there are also lags of four to six weeks in entering I-94 data into government systems associated with this transition, causing foreign nationals to experience delays of several weeks or more in receiving Social Security Numbers and driver’s licenses.
Any plans to revise regulations that require form I-94 remain to be seen.