As many of our readers know, overstaying a visa can have a serious implications on ones ability to return to the US. The USCIS can record timely departure of a visitor by collecting the I-94 card upon exit.
An I-94 is a form denoting the Arrival-Departure Record of particular foreigners used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses Form I-94 also. Form I-94 must be completed at the time of entry to the United States by foreign citizens that are being admitted into the United States in a non-immigrant visa status.
But what if you did not turn in I-94 when you left the U.S., what should you do? US Customs provided some useful tips:
If you returned home with your Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green) Departure Record in your passport, it is possible that your departure was not recorded properly.
If you departed by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), your departure from the U.S. can be independently verified, and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to your outbound (from the U.S.) boarding pass – if you still have it – can help expedite your reentry next time you come back to the United States.
If you departed by land, private vessel or private plane, you will need to take steps to correct the record. If you do not validate your timely departure from the United States, or, if you cannot reasonably prove you departed within the time frame given to you when you entered, the next time you apply for admission to the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may conclude you remained in the U.S. beyond your authorized stay. If this happens, your visa may be subject to cancellation or you may be returned immediately to your foreign point of origin.
Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), visitors who remain beyond their permitted stay in the United States cannot reenter the U.S. in the future without obtaining a visa from a U.S. Consulate. So if you are a Visa Waiver Program visitor who traveled by land to either Canada or Mexico for an onward flight, it is particularly important for you to register your timely departure if your green I-94W was not taken when you exited the U.S. If you fail to do so and you arrive at a U.S. port of entry seeking admission under the Visa Waiver Program without a visa, CBP Officers may order your immediate return to a foreign point of origin. If you are a VWP visitor and you left the U.S. by an air or sea carrier, you don’t need to worry.
If you failed to turn in your I-94 Departure Record, please send it, along with any documentation that proves you left the United States to:
DHS – CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
Do not mail your Form I-94 Departure Record or supporting information to any U.S. Consulate or Embassy, to any other CBP Office in the United States, or to any address other than the one above. Only at this location are we able to make the necessary corrections to CBP records to prevent inconvenience to you in the future. The London, Kentucky office does not answer correspondence, so please do not ask for confirmation that your record has been updated.
To validate departure, CBP will consider a variety of information, including but not limited to:
* Original boarding passes you used to depart another country, such as Canada, if you flew home from there;
* Photocopies of entry or departure stamps in your passport indicating entry to another country after you departed the United States (you should copy all passport pages that are not completely blank, and include the biographical page containing your photograph); and
* Photocopies of other supporting evidence, such as:
* Dated pay slips or vouchers from your employer to indicate you worked in another country after you departed the United States,
* Dated bank records showing transactions to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States,
* School records showing attendance at a school outside the United States to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States, and
* Dated credit card receipts, showing your name, but, the credit card number deleted, for purchases made after you left the United States to indicate you were in another country after leaving the United States.
To assist us in understanding the situation and correct your records quickly, please include an explanation letter in English. Your statement will not be acceptable without supporting evidence such as noted above. You must mail legible copies or original materials where possible. If you send original materials, you should retain a copy. CBP cannot return original materials after processing.
We strongly urge you to keep a copy of what you send to DHS-CBP and carry it with you the next time you come to the United States in case the CBP Officer has any questions about your eligibility to enter. Carrying those materials with you will also allow your record to be corrected at the time of entry if, for some reason, the London, Kentucky office has not yet done so.
If taking short trips (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands during the course of your visit to the U.S., hold onto your I-94 or I-94 (W); it should only be turned in when you leave the U.S. to return home.
Delays beyond the traveler’s control, such as cancelled or delayed flights, medical emergencies requiring a doctor’s care, etc. are not considered unauthorized overstays, however, you will need to bring proof of the cause of your overstay next time you travel to the U.S. in order for it to be forgiven. For airline delays, ask the airline for a letter affirming the delay or a copy of your cancelled boarding pass.
So make sure to remember to turn in your I-94’s, that will eliminate any problems the next time you return to the US.