From April 2022 to 2023, Customs, Border and Protection Agency (CBP) completed a full year of the “Simplified Arrival” program to achieve streamlining and digitization of the legal entry process. One part of this program was piloting a “Stampless Entry” program in August 2022.
CBP has affirmed that this program is here to stay and plans on expanding down the road. While a foreign national can request a stamp at entry, not every request is fulfilled. Instead, CBP directs foreign nationals to their online I-94 system to check their entry was accurate. On the same online system, a foreign national can look up their travel history inbound and outbound of the U.S. Any misinformation on an I-94 or I-94 travel history should be addressed promptly to correct. Ideally, right after the completion of entry to the U.S.
This simplified arrival process causes issues for foreign nationals in the long run. The physical entry stamp in a passport provided vital evidence of valid entry in a certain status. Without it, nonimmigrant visa holders have a larger burden to prove to USCIS when it comes to concerns such as: maintaining status, recapturing time for H and L visa holders, or L-1 intermittent work.
The I-94 online system is not consistent or accurate. This can cause further issues for foreign nationals like showing residence for tax purposes or interacting with state and local government agencies like the Social Security Agency or a state’s Department of Motor Vehicle. If CBP is pushing towards stampless and streamlined entry to the U.S., many more discussions between other government agencies will need to occur if the online I-94 record is heavily relied on as proof of legal entry.
The stampless entry also poses significant challenges for legal permanent residents (LPR). LPRs are not tracked in the online I-94 system as they are not classed as “nonimmigrants.” However, similarly to nonimmigrants, an entry stamp may be important for this non-citizen class in the future. LPRs are able to request an ink stamp upon admission to the U.S.
Overall, foreign nationals and LPRs should be retaining solid evidence of their international travels. The absence of an ink entry-stamp puts more importance on documents like flight itineraries, boarding passes, confirmation emails for hotels, flights, or other travel receipts. If someone disposes of these items, it may come down to presenting bank statements showing purchases outside the U.S. during an international trip.
If the stampless entry or online I-94s are causing issues for you or a company’s employee, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +1 630-262-1435.