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Government Grows Less Secretive

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014

 
When it comes to their I-94 records, nonimmigrant visitors to the U.S. no longer need to push back the darkness – the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) has let the sunshine in.

Until just last week, the only way for a foreign national to access his or her own arrival/departure (I-94) records was to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Under that Act, federal “agencies must disclose any information that is requested – unless that information is protected from public disclosure.” As one might be able to tell from the language, it can take a long time for the disclosure to occur. In the case of I-94 records, the wait time was routinely a year or more.

As of May 1, however, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) made electronic travel/departure records available on their web site at http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions

A nonimmigrant may access I-94 records going back five years from the request date by entering name, date of birth and passport information. The I-94 is vital to showing maintenance of legal status and all that depends upon it. The record also shows eligibility for a Social Security number, driver’s licenses, and other documents very useful for life in the U.S.

The CBP’s web page on the topic explains how those seeking records can cancel pending FOIA requests. However, as the agency points out, this should occur after the on-line request returns the desired results.

 

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