Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has officially implemented its “Simplified Arrival” program that was piloted in various cities from 2021 to 2022 to streamline the arrival process for international travelers at all 238 arriving airports, 34 seaports, and all southern pedestrian and most northern secondary land ports. Under the Simplified Arrival program, CBP no longer issues entry stamps on admission to the U.S. and will now only issue an electronic Form I-94 on its website. Employers should encourage their nonimmigrant employees to routinely check their Form I-94 upon return from international travel as the Form I-94 document is critical to determine how long the individual may remain in the U.S. and their eligibility for work authorization.
Under the current procedure, nonimmigrants proceed through immigration, present their valid passports along with their valid, unexpired admission documents, and will have their passport returned without issuance of an entry stamp documenting their admission to the country. Soon after their arrival, nonimmigrants may access the CBP website and retrieve their electronic Form I-94 to establish their admission and authorized period of stay.
CBP has confirmed that the Simplified Arrival program is intended to stay long term and will be expanded over time. CBP officers may still continue to stamp passports upon request. Despite the guidance from CBP, there have been anecdotal reports that some ports of entry are not complying with traveler requests for an entry stamp.
Although the purpose of the program is to keep the entry process streamlined, the elimination of entry stamps can pose future issues for nonimmigrants. In the past, entry stamps have been used in addition to Form I-94 to show that an individual has been maintaining their status. Without entry stamps, these individuals must now rely on their I-94 document, which often contains inaccuracies that may not be realized until it is too late to correct.
Since CBP will no longer voluntarily be issuing entry stamps upon arrival to the United States, it is even more critical that nonimmigrants entering the U.S. timely view and download their electronic I-94 entry document from CBP’s online system. It is extremely important for these individuals to promptly review their I-94 and travel history to ensure the details are correct and to verify how long they have been admitted in the country. Likewise, if an individual finds that their I-94 is incorrect, it is crucial they obtain a timely correction. It is prudent for nonimmigrants traveling internationally to keep contemporaneous evidence of international travel such as itineraries, flight status emails, hotel, and other travel receipts as additional evidence to document their exits and entries to the United States.