The I-94: Proof of Legal Entry into the United States
When entering the United States as a nonimmigrant, 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. This indicates how long a student or scholar is allowed to stay in the United States and proves that they arrived in the country legally.
Nonimmigrants who arrive in the United States 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 the CBP's website. Your electronic I-94 record should be printed immediately after arrival.
Nonimmigrants who arrive in the United States by crossing a land border will continue to receive the paper I-94 card. In these cases, you will not receive 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 United States 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 United States.
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.