What is it : The I-94 form is an arrival and departure record card that is distributed to each participant on the airplane before landing in the U.S. The Immigration officials at the airport will stamp the form in which one part will be attached to the participant’s passport and the Immigration Department will retain the other portion. The stamp on the I-94 card indicates the entry date into the U.S. and the visa status. Also, the stamp specifically indicates the last day the participant is authorized to stay in the U.S. legally.
Is it important : VERY
My case : My husband’s passport was to expire in 3 months , so at the US port of entry, our I-94 was stamped to the validity date of the passport. His H1 visa and i-797 approval form was valid until next year. Since, I am on h4 visa, the date on my i-94 was the same.
The confusion begans….: We got the passport renewed and got an appointment at with an immigration officer in Detroit. The officer in Detroit told us ” YOU ARE GOOD…as long as your visa is valid and i-797 approval form you don’t need the i-94″ …he was very calm and cool about it. But luckily, we were not assured.
Since, we were so close to Canada (5 minutes to the windsor tunnel)…we decided to take our chances and go to Canada to get a new , updated i-94 stamp. The officers in Canada were nice to us. They did not take our i-94 which worried us …but we were fine – as the US officer on the port of entry was supposed to take it and give us a new one.
Anyway, the US officer was extremely irritating and dumb. He asked for our marriage certificate – which we have never been asked for (we have been married for 8 years) and we have travelled outside the US of A several time. Moreover, my husband’s name is on my visa in my passport. He just wont budge…so we had to enter with our old i-94 ( it had not expired – it still had a few days on it).
Next day we went to Port Huron (this time with our marriage certificate, our child’s birth certificate, utility bills and a few marriage photographs), yet another port of entry into Canada…( by this time, I got a little worried about entering Canada so many time – I didn’t have a canadian visa…felt a little stupid. But when we told Canadian authorities that we just came to get our i-94 stamping done, they were kind to us!!) Anyway, the US officer at port Huron was nice and seemed intelligent, he guided us to the office and we got a new and stamped i-94. He did not ask for our marriage certificate or any other document except for the expired passport ( we had that at windsor tunnel, too …).
Moral : Dont trust the immigration officer…I 94 is VERY important…carry all possible documents with you – you never know what they might ask for.