The I-94: Proof of Legal Entry into the U.S.
When entering the U.S. as a non-immigrant, the Customs Border Protection (CBP) officer examines your passport and visa and then issues either a passport admission stamp or a small white card, called the Form I-94. The passport admission stamp or paper I-94 card indicates how long a student or scholar is allowed to stay in the U.S. and proves that they arrived in the country legally.
Non-immigrants who arrive in the U.S. by air or sea, should be issued the passport admission stamp. If a student or scholar has received a passport admission stamp, there will also be an electronic I-94 record. To access this record, visit: www.cbp.gov/I94. This should be printed immediately after arrival.
Non-immigrants who arrive in the U.S. by crossing a land border will continue to receive the paper I-94 card. In this case, there will not be an electronic I-94 record.
Duration of Status (D/S)
On the passport admission stamp or the paper I-94 card, the inspector writes either a date or "D/S" (duration of status). Students and scholars on F or J status should receive a stamp marked "D/S" or "duration of status." This means that they may remain in the U.S. as long as they are properly maintaining status and their I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) has not expired. Students and scholars are required to keep the passport entry stamp or I-94 card for the duration of their visit. Make sure to keep it in a safe place so it doesn't get lost.
The Admission Number
Every I-94 record has an eleven-digit admission number. This number may be needed at the Department of Motor Vehicles and for employment purposes, but it is not a number that needs to be memorized. In fact, a new I-94 number will be given each time the student or scholar re-enters the U.S.
For more information on the new I-94 automation process and passport admission stamps, please review the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Fact Sheet.