Electronic I-94 Record Retrieval Tips

April 16, 2014

 

Compiled by the Travel Subcommittee of NAFSA's International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee (ISS-RP).

To access an electronic I-94 record, visit: www.cbp.gov/I94. There are two tabs on the site, one for inputting traveler information and searching for the I-94 record, and one for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). NOTE that the electronic I-94 may disappear if the traveler had booked a return flight (even if that is not used) or if the traveler leaves the U.S. (such as a student taking a Caribbean vacation). Therefore, it is highly recommended that every nonimmigrant find and print his/her record as soon as possible after entry to (1) make sure the information is correct and (2) have a record of the information if the electronic record changes.

The information on the electronic I-94 can affect the ability to get a driver’s license, Social Security number or other government benefits. The information also describes one’s visa status in the US. Therefore, it is extremely important to fix errors or missing records. More information on how to do that is below in the section on the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). To start, we give some tips on actually finding the I-94 record online – that can take some real detective work.

Tips

First, try finding the I-94 record using the FAQs on the CBP I-94 website, www.cbp.gov/I94. If you can't locate the I-94 record using the CBP FAQs, try these troubleshooting tips:

Name

TIP: The name field on www.cbp.gov/i94 is not case-sensitive.

TIP: Try entering the name as listed in the various travel documents:

  • Passport Name
  • U.S. Visa Name

There are two locations for names on passports and U.S. visas: 1) the name field and 2) the machine-readable zone. If the name is different, try both versions

TIP: Also try the versions of the name that appear on the traveler's:

  • Airline Ticket
  • Boarding Pass

This might work because the electronic I-94 system initially receives names from the carrier in an electronic transfer of the flight manifest.

TIP: Try entering variations of the names that appear on the travel documents -

  • If there are multiple last (or first) names:
    • Try entering just one last (or first) name
    • Eliminate the space between the names
    • Add/remove a hyphen between names
    • Truncate the last few letters if the names are long. (Note: each name field has a 25-character limit)
    • Examples:
      • Last/Surname Lopez Garcia: try entering Lopezgarcia or just Lopez.
      • Last/Surname Fernandes Carvalho de Sousa: try entering Fernandescarvalhodeso.
      • Last/Surname Al-Hamdi: try entering Alhamdi or just Hamdi.
       
     
  • First and middle name:
    • Try entering both names in the First (Given) Name field with a space – e.g., For first name Claire and middle name Anne, try entering Claire Anne in the First (Given) Name field.
    • Try entering just the first and middle initials – e.g., for Claire Anne, try CA or C A.
     
  • Only one name
    • If the traveler only has one name, the Department of State may have placed that name in the Last/Surname field and placed the abbreviation FNU (First Name Unknown) in the First/Given name field. Try entering whatever name appears in the machine readable section of the passport and/or visa, including the abbreviation FNU.

Birth Date

TIP: Try inverting the month and day. Example: Birth Date July 9, 1980 correctly entered would be 1980 July 09; try instead 1980 September 07.

Passport Number

TIP: When both letters and numbers appear in the passport number, try entering a space after the letter(s). Example: Passport number LA497327: try entering LA 497327.

TIP: Also try the passport booklet number; sometimes the booklet number differs from the number on the bio page.

TIP: If the valid visa is in an expired passport, try entering the old passport number instead of the new one used for entry.

TIP: For Mexican passport entries, try eliminating the first two digits of the passport number. Also try dropping the last two digits.

Most Recent Date of Entry

TIP: Try "bracketing" the date, by entering dates one to three days before or after the actual date of entry.

Class of Admission

TIP: For those in H-1B status, instead of selecting H-1, try H-1B.

TIP:Check the class of admission that is handwritten on the visa foil in the passport. If that is different, it may lead to the electronic record – and also identify a problem to be fixed with CBP.

Contacting CBP

TIP: Contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). For erroneous records, records that cannot be retrieved, or for missing admission stamps in the passport, contact your local CBP port of entry or deferred inspection office before recommending your student/scholar visit them in person. Some CBP offices may assist with record retrieval by phone or email. Other issues, such as a missing admission stamp, may require a visit in person. It is worth noting if you live far from the Deferred Inspection site. For information on all Deferred Inspection sites, visit the CBP website.

Reporting the Issue to NAFSA

Make sure to check out NAFSA's Electronic I-94 Update Page. You can help our liaison efforts to improve the I-94 retrival process by submitting your experience to NAFSA IssueNet's "Report an Issue," at issuenet.nafsa.org. Your submission will be reviewed by NAFSA's ISS-RP Travel Subcommittee. Please use IssueNet; this is the most consistent way for NAFSA to assess what is happening at the CBP ports of entry and help keep this and other travel resources current.

Your examples will be most helpful if you can include in your report:

  1. Name on passport (add name on visa if different)
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Passport number
  4. Country of issuance
  5. Class of admission
  6. Date of entry
  7. Port of entry
  8. Airline and flight number
  9. Description of the problem encountered
  10. If you eventually found the record or were successful in having an incorrect record amended, please report that, too, and let us know how the problem was resolved
  11. A statement that you have obtained the traveler's permission for NAFSA to share any personally identifiable information with CBP