Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Managing I-94 Complications

We recommend that international students, visitors, workers, investors and their family members print their electronic I-94 arrival and departure records shortly after they arrive in the U.S.  The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has now fully implemented its program to automate electronic I-94s at entry.  Every foreign student, visitor, worker, investor or their family members can print his or her I-94 by visiting

It is important to check I-94s for many reasons.  First, the electronic I-94 states the person’s particular nonimmigrant classification and the length of time the person is permitted to stay in the U.S. on that entry.  If the international student, visitor, investor, or worker intends to stay longer than the “Admitted until” date or wants to change nonimmigrant classifications, they should contact an immigration attorney about whether an extension or change of nonimmigrant classification (status) is possible.  Second, the system is not infallible.  It is important to get mistakes on the I-94 corrected as soon as possible.  Third, internationals in work-authorized nonimmigrant classifications may need the I-94 in order to demonstrate that they are work-authorized, and for how long.

When retrieving a nonimmigrant I-94, each nonimmigrant needs to have his/her passport in hand and an internet connection.  At the CBP’s website, the person should enter the data from the passport ID page, the last name, the first name, date of birth, passport number, and country that issued the passport.   Press “Get Most Recent I-94.”  While for many the I-94 will come up, some may encounter difficulties.

If difficulties are encountered, it does not mean that the I-94 is not in the CBP database.  While that is a remote possibility, the more likely reason for the error is that the information entered does not match the name or passport number entered by the CBP Officer at admission.  If the passport has been renewed since the last admission to the U.S., first try entering the data with the information from the old passport used at entry.   Next, there are number of issues with names and passport numbers that can cause problems.  Experience suggests trying these steps to see if the I-94 can be located:

  • If the first or last name on the visa is different from the name on the passport, enter the name as stated on the visa.
  • If the non-immigrant has a middle name, try entering the first and middle name with a space between the names. Then try entering the middle and first names with no space.
  • If the nonimmigrant has multiple first names or last names, try entering all the names in the appropriate boxes with spaces between the names and then with no spaces between the names.
  • Try switching the naming order with the first name in the last name box and the last name in the “Given name” box.
  • If the non-immigrant applied for the visa with an old passport but entered on a new passport, use the old passport number.
  • If the passport number has the year of issuance in the number, try entering passport number without the year in it.
  • If the passport number is a Mexican passport with 11 digits, try searching with the first nine digits, then try with the last nine digits, and then try with the middle nine digits.

If none of these yields an I-94, the FAQs on the CBP website may be consulted.  Also, CBP may be contacted for assistance by following links on the website.  It is also possible to reach out to a local immigration attorney for questions or assistance related to the I-94.

In addition to searching for the I-94, CBP has made available a non-immigrant’s travel history for the past five years.  To obtain this information, enter the same information for the I-94 but press the “Get Travel History” button instead.  The travel history should show all the admissions and departures for the non-immigrant with that passport number.  If the individual has used an old passport over the past five years, the non-immigrant will need to enter that old passport number to obtain those travel records.  Arrival and departure dates for international flights tend to be fairly accurate.  Dates for travel by car across the border can have mistakes in them, particularly dates of departure from the U.S. by car.

In summary, careful attention to I-94 records can help every international nonimmigrant entrant to the United States to avoid potential immigration problems.

George C. Maxwell

Borene Law Firm, P. A.



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