Employers and their new hires have faced a significant challenge recently due to inaccuracies in foreign national workers Form I-94 records. These records mark entry and exit at border crossings. In addition, they serve other official purposes, such as the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process.
These errors can have serious consequences, including a failure to acquire employment. Other struggles these errors cause include the inability to qualify for citizenship or, in some cases, to remain in the United States. Unfortunately, these problems have increased as more foreign nationals get affected, significantly impacting the system and everyone involved.
The issue causing these inaccurate I-94 records stems from an update on how they are recorded and stored. Specifically, the problem comes from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) change in policy. It simplified border crossings by digitizing the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) and eliminating inked stamps. This change took place in April and meant to eliminate the need for ink stamps with each entry, easing the legal entry process.
Unfortunately, this electronic system has not been without errors. For example, it often mistook entry and exit dates. As these errors accrued, foreign nationals struggled to prove their legal status via the Form I-9 process. This process verifies a non-immigrant employee’s ability to work in the United States. As such, employers must inform their workers to check the electronic I-94 record as soon as possible upon entry to detect errors.
Non-immigrants should ask to have their I-94 records corrected if they cannot access it or see an error. They can do this by emailing the CBP Deferred Inspections Office at [email protected]. In this email, they should describe the problem and the correction(s) needed. Once done, the Office should outline the procedure for correcting the issue.
In addition, the CBP will allow individuals to apply for an I-94 before applying to speed up the process. However, interested applicants must pay a fee. They must also provide information about themselves and their proposed trip to the U.S. before arriving at the port of entry. Finally, they must present a receipt and a preliminary I-94 form at the border to enter as part of the procedure. However, this requirement does not apply to air travel.
The CBP will likely continue improving its electronic process, eliminating much of the issue. Until this happens, employers should stay vigilant and take steps to prevent delays caused by I-94 errors. By preparing for these struggles, they will also avoid complications with the Form I-9 process. The best way to ensure they do not encounter difficulties in the I-9 process is by using an electronic I-9 management system. This tool can guarantee consistent and accurate I-9 forms every time.
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