U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced in March that it will no longer issue cardstock “I-94” admission notices for persons entering at land ports of entry. Instead, individuals who drive, bike, walk or otherwise enter will need to look up their admission information at CBP’s website (www.cbp.gov), or via CBP’s new mobile application. The agency says this is “streamlining” the process, “to increase efficiency, reduce operating costs, and streamline the admissions process.”
Why is this news?
A lot of Canadians (focusing on the north here) have no idea that they have an expiration date for their period of stay when they drive in. They have been entering and exiting for years, without being provided a record of their admission. However, U.S. immigration law presents some very harsh consequences for “overstays,” including three and ten year bars to re-entry for overstays of 180 and 365 days, respectively. Also, violations of stays can disrupt trusted traveler eligibility or a future application for admission, as a couple more concerns.
In the past couple of months, I’ve spoken to a few people who have come to the United States as a visitor, and they are completely unaware that they have a fixed expiration date to their stay. In the past, Canadians who crossed at the land border crossing were waved in, and while there was an expectation of a limited stay, an expiration date was not set. This has changed. The expiration date now is usually six months from the date of arrival, but it can be shortened at the discretion or error of an officer, and usually is shortened to the date of a passport expiration, if sooner. Everyone who enters and is staying for any length of time should go online and check.
Again, the website is www.cbp.gov. Travel histories may also be obtained at the same site. With all this tracking, CBP is getting better at tracking travel histories for travelers, and making inferences based on those records.