As readers of this blog know, admission documentation (the I-94 card) is now provided electronically at airports. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will stamp your passport upon entry and then it is up to you to print your I-94 card if/when needed. (We recommend printing it as soon as possible after entry – see our Client Resources page.)
A recent liaison meeting with members for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) revealed some tips for travelers, who have found that the practice of finding the I-94 on-line does not always live up to the theory.
First, CBP recommends that you confirm that the information provided to the airline when you board the plane is accurate, including your passport number. This is probably best done at the check-in counter and/or at the desk in the boarding area before you board. This information is transmitted to CBP while you are in flight.
Second, CBP recommends that after inspection, you confirm that the stamp in your passport is correct. Despite the urge to get through the line quickly, take a moment to look at the stamp. It will contain your date of admission, class of admission (visa type), and date of expiration. Think about what the stamp should look like before you go through the line and then check it. If you become especially nervous at entry (and believe me, we understand!), we suggest writing down what you expect on your entry stamp to look like so you can quickly compare what was given to what you expected.
If the I-94 does not match your expectations, politely ask about the differences.
If you forget at the entry point, you can obtain a correction at a deferred inspection office, but it will take more time and could be inconvenient. The deferred inspection officer can also assist you in locating your I-94 on-line if you have trouble finding it.