What is an I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card)
and Why Do I Need Form I-94?
As a nonimmigrant, a I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card) or Form I-95 (Crewman's Landing Permit) states the date you arrived in the United States and the "Admitted Until" date, the date when your authorized period of stay in the US ends (your I-94 Form at times may have a shorter validity than your US visa).
Visitors entering the US under the Visa Waiver Program are exempt from having a US Visa. They must complete a similar I-94W Form. In addition to the I-94 Form standard requirements, the Form I-94W includes specific questions related to inadmissibility issues and indicates agreement to waive your right to a hearing before an immigration judge, if found inadmissible.
You will receive an I-94 Form (or Form I-94W or I-95) when arriving in the United States at a land border port-of-entry or from an airline or ship representative when arriving at an air or sea port-of-entry by aircraft or ship. The I-94 Form (or I-94W or I-95) must be completed and presented to an inspector who may ask you questions about the purpose of your trip, how long you will be in the United States, and your residence abroad.
Do your best not lose this I-94 Form (or I-94W or I-95 Form). When you leave the country, you should return the Form I-94 / I-94W or I-95 to your airline or ship representative, or, if you are departing over a land border, give it to a Mexican or Canadian immigration inspector (if you are taking a short trip to Canada or Mexico, see below). A Form I-94 / I-94W or I-95 that has been approved by an inspector can prove that you arrived in the US legally and that you have not stayed beyond the period of stay authorized. In addition, returning Form I-94 / I-94W or I-95 to the proper authorities when you leave the country can prove that you did not violate U.S. laws by staying in the country too long. Proof that you are willing to obey U.S. immigration laws will be very important if you again want to travel to the U.S. as an immigrant (Green Card holder) or nonimmigrant (on a US Visa or on the Visa Waiver Program) in the future. If you forget to turn in your I-94 Form or I-94W, see How to Record Departure from the US After the Fact.
The I-94 Form and Short Trips to Canada and Mexico
In general, if you have been admitted to the United States under most visa classifications if you take a short trip (30 days or less) to Canada or Mexico, you may retain your I-94 Form or I-94W so when resume your visit to the United States you are readmitted for the balance of the time remaining on your I-94 Form or I-94W.
For those admitted as academic students (see F-1 Visa) or exchange visitors (see J-1 Visa), if you take a short trip (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico, or the Adjacent Islands, you may retain your I-94 Form and your SEVIS form I-20 or SEVIS Form DS-2019, so when you resume your visit to the United States you are readmitted for the balance of the time required for you to complete your program.
However, because each traveler’s individual circumstances may vary (such as your current status in the United States, foreign destination, and the nationality of the traveler); it is recommended that you contact CBP (see below for phone numbers) at the port of your departure and prior to your departure if you have any questions regarding these issues.
What if my Form I-94 has incorrect information on it?
If your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, was issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) (at a port of entry) and it has an error, you should go to the nearest CBP Office with proof of entry or admission and the Form I-94, and request a new Form I-94.
If the Form I-94 was issued by USCIS (at a local USCIS office or from a USCIS Service Center) and it has an error, you should go to a USCIS local office and request a new Form I-94. If the officer at the local office is not convinced that the Form I-94 was issued in error, the officer may advise you to file a Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival Departure Document.
What if my Form I-94 has been lost, stolen, mutilated,
If your Form I-94 has been lost, stolen, mutilated, or destroyed, you will need to apply for a replacement Form I-94 by filing a Form I-102.
You can download the Form I-102 here.