News - June 2008

Is Your I-94 Card Misprinted?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") recently announced that it had received a batch of approximately one million defective I-94 cards. These I-94 Arrival-Departure cards were each missing one digit on the serial number at the top of the card. Every I-94 card should have an 11-digit identification number, but the defective cards were printed with 10-digit numbers. Although the defective I-94 cards have since been recalled by CBP, the agency is not sure exactly how many defective cards were issued, and out of which airports. The international airport in Calgary, Canada is known to have issued some of the cards. This seemingly small problem has delayed issuance of Social Security numbers by the Social Security Administration ("SSA") to many individuals arriving as nonimmigrant workers, since the I-94 number serves as an important link between CBP and SSA computer systems used to confirm each entrant's status in the United States. It is important that each person closely examine their new I-94 card before leaving CBP inspection upon each and every arrival in the United States. The I-94 card should have 11 digits, and should be endorsed for the full period of time shown on the most recent I-797 approval notice for nonimmigrant workers holding visas in temporary classifications such as H-1B or L-1. The card should also be annotated to show the correct visa classification. If the inspector does not mark the card properly, the entrant can ask for assistance from a supervisor before leaving the immigrations inspection area. While it is possible have an erroneous I-94 corrected after the fact, it is much easier to have it corrected at the time of issuance.


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