Posts Tagged ‘travel records’

New I-94 Process for Artists Touring the United States

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

By Brian Taylor Goldstein, Esq. Dear Law and Disorder: I heard that US Immigration will no longer be giving foreign artists the little white card they used to get when an artist entered the US. The cards were stamped with the artist’s visa category and the date they had to leave. It was my understanding that we needed to make copies of those cards if we needed to extend an artist’s visa. Are we supposed to use something else instead? Is there a new process? Yes, you heard correctly. The little white card, called a Form I-94, was an artist’s official arrival/departure record. Up until recently, every foreign artist as well as all other foreign travelers entering the U.S. (except, occasionally, Canadians, depending on when and where they entered) was given a Form I-94 to fill out (most often while waiting in an interminably long line at an airport international arrivals hall), the bottom half of which was stamped with their status and departure date and returned to them by a US Customs and Border Patrol Officer (aka the border troll.) This form was also issued to those who adjusted their status while in the U.S. (ie: changed from F to O), or who extended their visas. The I-94 was used to confirm the artist’s individual’s status or visa category (O, P, F, B1/B2, etc.) and the departure date by which they must leave the U.S. When the artist left, they surrendered the I-94 either to the commercial airline carrier or to CBP directly. The I-94 information and the date of departure was then entered into a database to verify that the artist did not overstay the required departure date. As of April 30, 2013, this process became electronically automated. CBP will no longer require artists to fill out a paper Form I-94 upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea and will no longer issue paper I-94 forms in return. Instead, CBP will gather the arrival/departure information automatically from the foreign artist’s electronic travel records and, upon entry of the artist into the U.S., will enter their status and departure date electronically. (Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will continue to issue a paper form I-94 “at land border ports of entry”—which is government-speak for Canada and Mexico.) Similarly, when the artist leaves the US, the date of their departure will be electronically gathered, as well. Under the new process, the CBP officer will stamp the passport of each arriving artist. The admission stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission, and the departure date by which the traveler must leave. Artists wanting a hard copy or other evidence of their valid admission and immigration status will need to go to a special website ( where, using their passport numbers and names, they can access and print as many physical copies of their I-94 as they want. Officially, there is no legal reason for an artist to have a hard copy of the I-94. Officially, the electronic record and the passport stamp will serve as evidence of their valid admission and immigration status. Nevertheless, we are strongly recommending that all artists, or their managers/agents or employers, go to the website and print out a hard copy of the I-94. Why? Simple—we don’t trust CBP not to make mistakes! Plus, while CBP may no longer require a physical I-94, other government agencies still do. Despite what is stamped in an artist’s passport, an artist’s official arrival/departure record will remain the electronic I-94. If a CBP officer makes an error and the required departure date written on the passport does not correspond with the official departure date electronically entered on the I-94, the I-94 will govern. In other words, regardless of what is written on the passport, the artist MUST leave the US by the date stamped on the I-94 despite what was approved by USCIS or written on their visa. Printing out the I-94 will be the only way to verify that the I-94 reflects the correct visa category and the correct period of admission. Furthermore, having a hard copy of the I-94 will also continue to be required by employers and schools who are required by other government agencies to verify immigration status. A hard copy of the I-94 will also facilitate the process of obtaining drivers licenses and social security numbers. An equally important reason for a paper copy of the I-94 is that it would function as a backup document in the event that CBP officers cannot access the electronic record of admission due to a systems failure at the time that an artist seeks re-admission to the US after a short visit to either Canada or Mexico. A hard copy of the I-94 will also continue to be required by USCIS when an artist is currently in the US and files a visa petition to extend their visa. In such cases, the petition must include a copy of the I-94 to show that the artist was validly admitted and is currently “in-status.” CBP has issued a fact sheet that includes frequently asked questions regarding the impact of automation, visa revalidation, passenger processing times, and more. You can access that at: CBP contends that this automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security, and reduce federal costs by saving the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year. That remains to be seen. As CBP implements the I-94 automation process, processing errors and challenges relating to the automated admissions process and accessibility of electronic records are already arising. _________________________________________________________________ For additional information and resources on this and other legal and business issues for the performing arts, visit To ask your own question, write to All questions on any topic related to legal and business issues will be welcome. However, please post only general questions or hypotheticals. GG Arts Law reserves the right to alter, edit or, amend questions to focus on specific issues or to avoid names, circumstances, or any information that could be used to identify or embarrass a specific individual or organization. All questions will be posted anonymously. __________________________________________________________________ THE OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE! The purpose of this blog is to provide general advice and guidance, not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with your specific circumstances, facts, challenges, medications, psychiatric disorders, past-lives, karmic debt, and anything else that may impact your situation before drawing any conclusions, deciding upon a course of action, sending a nasty email, filing a lawsuit, or doing anything rash!