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I-94 Card

 As of spring 2010, Customs and Border Protection (CPB) is phasing out the green Visa Waiver I-94 card. Some travelers are still being issued this card and others are simply receiving a VW stamp in their passport. CBP has not yet said what, if anything, will replace the green I-94 card. When making photocopies of required documents for reimbursements, please copy the CBP stamp in the passport if the visitor does not have an I-94 card.

The I-94 card is a small green or white card given to all nonimmigrants when they enter the United States. The I-94 card serves as evidence that a nonimmigrant has entered the country legally. It is stamped with a date indicating how long the nonimmigrant may stay for that particular trip. It is this date--and not the expiration date of the visa--that controls how long a nonimmigrant can remain in the United States. A new I-94 card with a new date is issued each time the nonimmigrant legally enters the United States. Canadian visitors are not normally issued I-94 cards.

The I-94 card provides evidence of a nonimmigrant's status in the US.

  • I-94: for foreign visitors to the US if they hold a valid visa
  • I-94W:  for foreign visitors to the US traveling under Visa Waiver program

The I-94 card is obtained from the transportation carrier (ship, airline, etc.) and must be surrendered to an inspector of the DHS / USCIS at the port of entry into the US when applying for admission.

A DHS official gives the bottom part­­--the "departure" portion--of the I-94 back to the traveler after reviewing all the documents. It is usually stapled into the passport. Admission to the US is granted and the I-94 is stamped. The stamp notes the date of entry into the US and the authorized period the visitor may remain in the country.

Under U.S. law all travelers to the US must return their I-94/I-94W cards to the appropriate USCIS authorities. When the NRA leaves the US, the transportation carrier representative, usually at the check-in counter, removes the I-94 card form the passport.

When the I-94 card is not removed, which sometimes does not happen, the passenger's departure from the US will not be registered with USCIS. This can make it look as though the NRA has overstayed the period of time granted on admission. This can cause a problem as the visa may be subject to cancellation or the NRA denied re-entry into the US. In particular, NRAs on a visa waiver who remain beyond their permitted stay in the US can't reenter the US in the future without obtaining a visa. So, visitors must ensure that they surrender their I-94 or I-94W stub to their transport carrier before they depart the US. The traveler should complete the back of the card, listing the port of departure and date of departure from the US and the carrier/flight information. The card, together with a letter of explanation and evidence of departure from the US, should be sent to: ACS - USCIS, SBU, P.O. Box 7125, London, KY, 40742-7125.

If a nonimmigrant changes from one status to another after admission to the US, the new I-94 will be issued via From I-797A and will not have a DHS stamp on it.

The I-94 has an admission number (11 digit number that is also referred to as the departure number) that functions as a DHS control number for locating the NRA's record in the DHS Nonimmigrant Information System (NIIS) file. SSA uses the I-94 number to access the NRAs status in SAVE.

I-94 Card and Expired Visas

A visa is a document issued by the US Embassy or Consulate that gives the individual permission to travel to the US for a specific purpose as shown on the visa. It is an ENTRY document to the US.

A visa has no relevance at all once an alien enters the US (except assurance that if the alien departs from the US, he will be able to get back.)

It is not required for an alien in the US and not a problem for any employment authorization or tax purpose if it expires.

Once an individual has entered the US, and is here legally, the term visa, and the visa itself ceases to have any relevance to what the person may do and how, where, and when he or she may obtain income.

Upon arrival in the US, the individual is issued an I-94 card, Arrival-Departure Document, that indicates the individual's immigration status and authorized period of stay in the US.

The I-94 number is the admission number. The I-94 number also notes the individuals work authorization when it is a function of the immigration status as it is with an H-1B. The I-94 card is, in effect, the "residence permit" which indicates the STATUS of the individual in the US.

An individual has no need to obtain a new visa until he or she needs to travel outside the US and needs to reenter the US. It is applied for at a consulate or embassy abroad.

Therefore, it is not unusual for an individual to have an expired visa or even a visa with a different immigration status if the individual has changed status while in the US.

It is possible for a NRA to change status inside the United States and never have a visa that corresponds to the new status. The new status is usually indicated on a combination Form I-797/I-94.

Contact Us

Devon Slough, International Taxation Officer
(804) 287-6007
Maryland Hall, Room G-15
Monday–Friday, 8:45 a.m.–2:45 p.m.