February 21, 2008

Tips on Recording a Timely Departure from the U.S.

When filing almost any type of immigration application, one will need to show that they have not overstayed a period of authorized admission in the United States. Often, when someone departs the U.S. by air or sea, their information should be entered into the Department of Homeland Security’s database after their I-94 card is collected. However, this does not always happen, or the information may be entered incorrectly. This is especially true when one departs the United States by land when I-94s are often not collected at all.

Despite these shortcomings in policy, there are things one may do to be sure that they document the fact that they have, indeed, departed the United States in a timely manner. For example, if you did not turn over your I-94 when you departed the U.S., you can mail the card and information to:

ACS—CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744

The card should NOT, however, be mailed to a local consulate or embassy. Also be sure that you keep a copy of what you are mailing and mail it in a way that it can be tracked.

If you need to find out if your I-94 and departure were recorded correctly, you can contact the following department to make a FOIA request:

US Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Attn: Mint Annex Bldg
FOIA Division
Washington, DC 20229

However, if you did not surrender an I-94 card when you departed the United States, there are other documents that you can use to show that you have departed the United States such as a used airline ticket or boarding pass, a passport stamp showing the date of arrival in one’s home country, pay stubs for employment outside the United States, Credit card slips showing purchases made outside the U.S. post-departure, and others.

Delays beyond the traveler’s control, such as cancelled flights, medical emergencies, and others are not authorized overstays, however, if you bring proof that your late departure was out of your control, bring that evidence when you next travel to the U.S. to be forgiven. For cancelled tickets, ask the airline to issue you a letter confirming the delay or cancellation.

By Michelle Richart