U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is moving forward with its “stampless entry program.” Last year, CBP initiated a streamlined arrival process at all 238 arriving airports, 34 seaports, all southern pedestrian ports, and most northern secondary land ports. The objective of this streamlined process is simple – to fully digitize the process of entering the United States. As part of this digitized process, CBP piloted a project to eliminate ink stamps in passports at entry. This fall CBP confirmed that this program will become permanent and expanded to all ports of entry. While CBP officers may stamp passports on request, many will not as a discretionary matter. Similarly, all I-94s are electronically issued – no paper I-94s will be issued.
This digitized change in process will have a practical impact on nonimmigrants and noncitizens. Specifically, now the only record of a noncitizen’s admission into the United States is an electronic I-94 record that is not reviewed by the applicant for admission until after admission and only if the applicant takes it upon him or herself to check their records. Errors in admission status and duration are common, and any negative consequences of an overstay due to CBP error are borne fully by the noncitizen applicant. Because of this, CYA strongly encourages all noncitizens entering the US to promptly check and download their I-94 after each re-entry into the U.S. Any errors should be taken seriously and promptly corrected. Maintaining thorough and complete records of entries and exits is often critical for recapturing nonimmigrant status, proving maintenance of status, and eligibility for naturalization.