General Information: The purpose of Form I-94/I-94W is to record the
arrival and departure information of all visitors to the United States. Most
visitors to the United States need to apply for a visa before entering the U.S.,
unless if the person is a citizen of one of the 27 visa waiver countries and has
a machine-readable passport. Citizens of visa waiver countries can enter the
U.S. for up to 90-day visa-free. Regardless of whether the visitor is entering
the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, or if he/she has a visa, all
visitors must complete either Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green).
What is the difference between Form I-94 and Form I-94W?
Form I-94 and Form I-94W consist of two parts:
- Form I-94 (white): It is issued to visitors who hold a valid U.S. visa, such as B-1, B-2, F-1, H-1B, etc.
- Form I-94W (green): Is issued to visitors who enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. The "W" stands for "Waiver". This means that you waive your rights to review or appeal any decision regarding admissibility in the United States, and prevents you (in most cases) from extending your stay in the United States or changing immigration status. Normally this is not a problem, but it is important to be aware of in case on possibly changing status after you enter the United States.
Arrival Record: The top part of the form is kept by the immigration officer upon arrival
Departure Record: The bottom part is your departure record which must be returned upon departure
Important: A problem occurs if you lose your departure record or forget to turn it in when departing the United States. Your file will then remain open and once you have exceeded the amount of days you were legally admitted to stay in the United States, you will be classified as an “overstay”. This may lead to a serious problem next time you try to enter the United States including denial of entry and/or cancellation of any United States visa you may have.
It is the visitor’s responsibility to proof that he or she departed the United
States within the amount of days indicated he or she was admitted to stay. There
are specific procedures to follow whether you lost or misplaced your Form
I-94/I-94W departure record while in the United States, or you forgot to turn it
in before departing the United States.
The following the scenarios (and solutions) are described in the Form I-94/I-94W
- Lost I-94/I-94W departure record while in the United States
- Mutilated I-94/I-94W departure record while in the United States
- Stolen I-94/I-94W departure record while in the United States
- Departure from the U.S. with the I-94/I-94W departure record still in your possession
- Departure from the U.S. without the I-94/I-94W departure record