CBP: Pay for Your I-94 Before Arrival at Land Port of Entry

Applicants for admission can now apply for an I-94 before arriving at a land port of entry, and make the $6 payment online via credit card, debit card, direct debit or through PayPal. After making the payment, a receipt will be issued and a provisional I-94 will be created within U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) database. The applicant for admission than must present themselves for inspection at a land port of entry within 7 days, and the process will be completed via interview and issuance of the new I-94.

CBP believes advance payment will lead to faster processing and entry to the United States. We’ll see–that would be good news.

In 2013, CBP automated the I-94 process for air and sea entries. Persons arriving by air or sea are issued an I-94 on-line, and they must print these after entry. A portal was created for printing I-94s, and this portal also tracks individual travel history. The system is not always accurate. Notably, the site has visible changes this past week, including the ability to apply for an I-94 online.

Warning:  we are aware of recent cases where CBP issued I-94s for shorter admission periods than originally approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The typical reason is a soon to expire passport. It is best to always check I-94 admission documents carefully, and download them with every entry by air and sea. There are severe penalties in immigration law for overstaying a period of authorized stay. It is important to know exactly how long that period is. Errors are easier to correct before an expiration date, than after, when there might be consequences and questions of fact.

Here’s CBP’s press release on the new advance payment system for I-94s:

CBP Makes Online I-94 Application, Payment Available to Travelers Arriving at a Land Port of Entry

Release Date:  September 29, 2016

Travelers arriving at land border ports of entry can speed up their entry by using the online I-94 application

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced an enhancement to the I-94 website today, which allows travelers to apply and pay for their I-94 online prior to arriving at a land port of entry. Travelers can speed up their entry into the U.S. by providing their biographic and travel information, and paying the $6 fee for their I-94 application online up to seven days prior to their entry.

“We continue our commitment to transforming the international arrivals experience with this new I-94 offering that expedites entry into the U.S. at land ports of entry, while maintaining the highest standard of security,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “This automated functionality increases the efficiency of the entry process and reduces administrative duties for CBP officers—ultimately resulting in shorter waits for travelers requiring an I-94.”

Travelers will now receive a provisional I-94 after submitting their application and payment online. The I-94 application will collect information that is otherwise collected in-person at the land port of entry, to include biographic information (name, date of birth, country of citizenship), passport details, visa details (if applicable), and petition/Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) number (if applicable).

In order to finalize the I-94 issuance process, a traveler must present themselves at a land port of entry within seven days of their application and submit biometrics, if applicable, and be interviewed by a CBP officer. Travelers should be prepared to show evidence of their residence, employment, and/or travel plans, if requested by the CBP officer.

If the traveler does not complete their I-94 issuance process within seven days of their application, their provisional I-94 will expire and they will have to reapply and the pay the fee again. There are no refunds if the I-94 is not issued within the seven day period or if the traveler is denied entrance to the United States.

The secure website is easy to use and payment can be made with a credit card, debit card, direct debit, or through PayPal. The benefits of this process include increased efficiencies during processing, decreased paper usage, a streamlined CBP inspection process for the traveling public and reduced operating costs.

Form I-94 provides non-immigrant visitors evidence they have been lawfully admitted to the U.S., which is necessary to verify alien registration, immigration status, and employment authorization. In May 2013, CBP automated the I-94 in the air and sea environment. The automated system allows CBP officers to create an I-94 Arrival Record within primary and secondary inspection processing systems at the time of inspection with passenger manifest information—eliminating the need for paper forms and manual data entry. The automation of the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record has greatly improved the traveler experience while saving the U.S. government an estimated $34.5 million in its first two years.

For more information regarding the I-94 land automation or to access an electronic Form I-94, visit www.cbp.gov/I94. To apply for your I-94 online, visit https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last published: September 29, 2016