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Why It Is Important To Notify Immigration If You Forgot To Return Your I-94

immigration.gifThe I-94 is an Arrival/Departure record which is issued by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency. The I-94 may be in either paper or electronic format, but has been mostly generated in electronic format since April 30, 2013 for passengers who travel by air and sea. The I-94 is generated by a CBP officer when a foreign visitor enters the United States, and when issued in electronic format the I-94 is entered as an annotated stamp in the foreign person’s passport. Those who travel to the U.S. by land generally continue to receive a paper I-94. Those who return home by land must turn in their I-94 as they leave the U.S. Failure to do so could present problems with verifying that the person did, in fact, leave the U.S. on time.

Those who forget, or otherwise fail to, turn in their I-94 when they depart the United States may be designated as having “overstayed,” their visas. This is because aside from the return of the I-94, the CBP has no other independent way to verify that the person actually left the U.S. on time. This is in contrast to those with an electronic I-94, which can be independently verified. For those who did not return their paper I-94 when they left the U.S., a designation of overstay could hurt their chances to reenter the U.S. at a later date, as penalties for the misunderstanding can include visa cancellation.

Those who entered the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) have additional incentive to notify CBP if they did not return their I-94 when they left the country. This is because under the VWP program those who overstayed will not be permitted to reenter the U.S. This could result in a person being denied at a port of entry.
If you retained your I-94 forms after leaving the United States, you should immediately send your original I-94, along with documentation supporting your departure dates, to;
DHS – CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
USA

This information should only be sent to the above address, not to another CBP office or a U.S. consulate or embassy. Additionally, please be advised that the above location does not respond to questions or concerns. The following information can be used to help verify your departure date:

  • Original airline boarding passes which were used to fly home from another country, such as Canada.
  • Photocopy of all pages in passport which are not blank. Should show that you entered into another country after departing from the U.S.
  • Personal documentation which documents you were in another country before your visa expiration such as:
    1. Dated pay stubs which showed you worked in another country before visa expiration date
    2. Dated bank records showing in-person transactions in another country before visa expiration date
    3. Dated credit card records with showing your name but not your account information, which shows in-person transactions in another country before visa expiration date
    4. School records showing you attended class in another country before visa expiration date

Attached to the supporting documentation above, you should provide a letter explaining your situation, written in English. This letter is mandatory and the above supporting information cannot be processed without it. Please note that in the case original copies are mailed, they will not be returned. For this reason it is best to mail legible copies when possible. Additionally, it is highly recommended that you bring this supporting documentation along with you the next time your visit the United States.

The Austin immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm are here to help you will all your immigration needs. Please give us a call at 512-215-5225 or visit us on our website.