On April 29, 2013, U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) implemented an electronic system to record arrival information (i.e., date and place of arrival, nonimmigrant visa category, and date of expiration of status) of nonimmigrants entering at United States air and sea ports of entry. The automation of entry data replaced the paper Form I-94 which nonimmigrants used to receive upon being admitted to the United States. Individuals now must access the CBP web site (cbp.gov/I94) in order to view and print their current Form I-94, which contains the official record of an individual’s admission to the United States. A conspicuous drawback of automated collection and storage of I-94 information, however, was that the system would automatically delete the individual’s admission record once he or she departed the United States.
On April 21, 2014, CBP added a feature as an upgrade to its web site providing individuals online access to older admissions records in addition to their current I-94. Now individuals can use the CBP web site to gain access to historical entry and exit data that has been in existence for five years before the date of the request. One of the most tangible benefits of this online feature is the elimination of the need to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for relatively recent arrival/departure history information. For example, Applicants who needed copies of their admissions records in order to document their eligibility for certain types of immigration benefits frequently had to file a FOIA request and then wait several months or longer to receive a response from the government. The improvement to the CBP web site may also promote CBP’s efficiency by freeing up resources which would otherwise be devoted to processing routine requests for more recent records.
Timothy D. Widman is a San Jose Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman.