Going Digital: CBP Eliminates Passport Entry StampsNovember 10, 2022
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which conducts inspections at the U.S. borders, plans to eliminate the issuance of entry stamps on the passports of foreign nationals arriving in the U.S. This policy is already in place at some airports, and CBP will continue to roll out this policy at additional ports of entry.
Traditionally, foreign nationals who arrive in the U.S by air or sea were issued a passport entry stamp or a Form I-94 (record of admission) after inspection of their documents. After the CBP started utilizing electronic versions of I-94 rather than paper copies, the passport stamp was the only physical record given to the foreign national. A passport stamp would be inked in the foreign national’s passport at the port of entry upon admission into the U.S. This stamp contains the location of entry point, the date of entry, the class of entry, and the duration the foreign national is permitted to stay.
New Arrival Procedure
Going forward, foreign nationals arriving at U.S. air and seaports will no longer receive a passport entry stamp. Instead, they will only receive an electronic I-94 which they should promptly access after admission to confirm all information is correct, particularly the immigration status and expiration date. The electronic I-94 can be accessed either on the CBP’s mobile app or the CBP I-94 website. If the foreign national would like a physical copy of the I-94, they can print a copy from the I-94 website or the CBP mobile app. A physical copy can also be requested during inspection at the port of entry but will require additional steps.
Impact on U.S. Employers and Foreign National Employees
As the CBP continues to roll out this policy, U.S. employers and foreign national employees should be aware of the potential issues in the following contexts:
Under the current law, a valid foreign passport affixed with a passport entry stamp was sufficient to prove both identity and employment authorization for employment eligibility verification, Form I-9, for certain non-immigrants. Now that passport entry stamps will no longer be issued, the electronic I-94 will be the only proof of lawful status for I-9 purposes for foreign nationals who are employment-authorized incident to status with a specific employer. The I-94 governs the foreign national’s immigration status and expiration date for I-9 purposes, not their visa or notice of approval (Form I-797). If there is a discrepancy between the notice of approval and the I-94, the expiration date on the I-94 becomes the expiration date of work authorization on the I-9. As a reminder, foreign nationals must never stay in the United States beyond the “admit until” date listed on the current I-94. As such, it is critical that the foreign national employee always download their I-94 each time they enter the U.S. and promptly take action to make any necessary corrections.
Time in the U.S.
For many immigration filings, documenting the exact time (in days) spent in the U.S. is required or helpful. Passport stamps were often primary evidence of arrivals into the U.S. Moving forward, when a foreigner needs to document their time in the U.S., they will need to have an accurate I-94 or other dated evidence confirming a presence on U.S. soil (flight itineraries and tickets are good evidence). They can also access their U.S. travel history (although experience has shown this is not always correct) here.
This new policy may also have impacts on other government agencies such as the Social Security Administration and the state level departments of motor vehicles. Many federal and state agencies use I-94s to verify that a foreign national employee is entitled to benefits. For example, the current policy from the Social Security Administration allows foreign national employees to submit an unexpired foreign passport with a current admissions stamp showing a class of admission permitting work. It is unclear how the Social Security Administration will handle this new policy. It likely will require I-94s be submitted to show work authorization which underscores the importance of making sure the electronic I-94 is correct as more government agencies adapt to the new CBP policy.
In light of this new policy, we urge clients to begin counseling their foreign national employees on this new arrival procedure as soon as possible to minimize any disruptions in work authorization or benefits. If any of your foreign national employees notice a mistake on their I-94, please contact one of our experienced immigration attorneys.
Our team of dedicated immigration attorneys remains available to assist you and your foreign national employees as the CBP implements this policy. Lewis Rice will continue to monitor announcements and updates related to the elimination of passport entry stamps.