Agent’s Corner: by Deb Radtke
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is steadily working to streamline its processes. This includes going paperless with I-94 records. The I-94 is a foreign visitor’s entry and departure record. For crew that may depart on a private vessel, not physically checking out has raised some concerns.
In 2013, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped using paper I-94 departure/arrival records at all air and sea ports of entry. The information is still being collected. When you go into the CBP immigration office in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, or in Miami or any other port, they scan your passport, take your biometrics (fingerprints) and enter the information into the automated system.
Some yacht crew and boaters have questioned how CBP knows you have departed when you leave on a private vessel. This is where the ENOD (Electronic Notice of Departure) comes in. Filing your ENOD creates a crew manifest and is transmitted to CBP as part of APIS (Advanced Passenger Inspection System).
This does not mean the system is foolproof. It is highly recommended that you regularly check your I-94 record at this link: i94.cbp.dhs.gov. Up to five years of U.S. travel history may be retrieved from this site.
Here are five tips to prevent and correct errors on your I-94:
- Obtain a current record of your travel information. Go to the CBP link (i94.cbp.dhs.gov) to obtain your I-94 and travel history. The website contains up-to-date information about a foreign traveler’s record of most recent entry, as well as previous U.S. travel history. Travelers must enter passport information to access I-94 and travel history. We recommend comparing the information on the website with the entry stamps and notations on your passport, as well as with other relevant documentation.
- Gather documentation that proves correct information. Possible I-94 errors include incorrect entry date, class of admission (visa classification), biographical information, passport information and travel history. Print a copy of the I-94 and travel history information from the CBP website, and collect evidence and other documentation reflecting the correct information.
For example, if the entry date on the CBP website is incorrect, you would include a copy of your passport page with the entry stamp and notation showing the correct entry date.
If a departure date is incorrect, evidence of departure can include – but is not limited to – entry stamps in a passport, transportation tickets, pay stubs and/or other receipts. A traveler can request an entry stamp from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) when entering Canada or from the Instituto Nacional de Migracion (INM) when entering Mexico.
CBP also has accepted “proof of life” evidence. In one case we know of, they accepted a photo of a crew member in Resolute NW Territories in northernmost Canada with a date and time stamp that proved they had departed prior to the expiry date.
- Go to a designated Deferred Inspection site for the correction. Once you have a copy of your I-94 and travel history information from the CBP and have gathered your supporting documentation, take them to a designated site. Any Deferred Inspection site or a CBP office within an international airport or seaport should be able to assist you, regardless of where the actual document was issued. Search www.cbp.gov for designated sites.
- Contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if you were issued an incorrect I-94 by USCIS. You must contact USCIS directly, because Deferred Inspection sites will only correct errors made at the time of entry. You may go to a local USCIS office to have your I-94 corrected. You must schedule an InfoPass (my.uscis.gov) appointment for assistance.
- Double-check your I-94 and travel history information every time you travel. It will save you the hassle of having to correct errors on your arrival/departure record.
Capt. Deb Radtke owns American Yacht Agents in Fort Lauderdale (americanyachtagents.net). After 16 years of working on yachts, she found her niche shoreside assisting vessels visiting the U.S. East Coast and Great Lakes. Comments are welcome below.