Impact of Recent Events on Immigrants and Nonimmigrant Foreign Nationals

October 2001 - Recent reports from members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association indicate that the US Immigration and Naturalization Service has established new checkpoints at many U.S. airports, including domestic as well as international terminals.

As a result, we have been advised that foreign nationals, including both Nonimmigrant Workers (including those in H-1B, L-1, or TN status), and their dependents (eg, H-4, L-2, or TD holders), as well as Immigrants holding Lawful Permanent Resident status, have been asked to present their passport and I-94 card, as well as their "Green Card." In some cases, Immigrations officers have also requested to see original I-797 petition approval notices.

The basis for these document requests is that Section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that aliens over the age of 18 to carry their "alien registration" documentation with them at all times. The law defines what constitutes a registration document for different classes of individuals, including nonimmigrants, and the INS Regulations at 264.1(a) define an I-94 card as a “prescribed registration form.” Failure to meet the documentation requirement is a misdemeanor, with conviction punishable by up to 30 days in prison, a $100 fine, or both.

It appears that such checks for identification are currently only being conducted at U.S. airports, for both domestic and international travel.

In order to be in compliance with this regulation, we advise that all nonimmigrant foreign nationals traveling within the United States and abroad carry their passport, their I-94 card, and any current I-797 petition approval notice(s).

We advise that all Lawful Permanent Residents carry their I-551 alien registration cards "Green Cards" or other evidence of lawful permanent residence, such as their passport with I-551 stamp.

We also suggest that since each of these documents is difficult to replace, that each person take care to ensure they are not lost, damaged or stolen.


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