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What is an Arrival-Departure Record? Once you receive an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, you are authorized to travel to the United States. However, a visa does not guarantee that you will be allowed to enter the United States. The INS has authority to grant or deny your admission to the United States. The INS also will determine how long you may stay in the United States.
An Arrival/Departure Record is created by the INS when the traveler is inspected upon arrival in the United States. The inspector endorses the INS Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) with the date, place of arrival the "class of admission" (which corresponds to the visa class), the length of time the traveler may remain in the United States, and any special conditions which may apply to the visit. The inspector keeps the Arrival portion of the form and returns the endorsed departure portion to the traveler who must keep the card in his possession until he leaves the United States. When the traveler leaves the United States, he must surrender the departure portion of the I-94 to the airline representative, if he travels by air, or to the immigration or customs officer if he departs across the border to Canada or Mexico. For more, please see How Do I Get an Arrival-Departure Record? and How Do I Get Legally Admitted to the United States?.
If you want to stay longer than the date authorized by your INS Form I-94, you must apply for an extension with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the INS. For more information, please see How Do I Get Permission to Extend My Stay in the United States?.
Who Needs an Arrival Departure Document? Most foreign travelers will receive an Arrival Departure Record when arriving at a U.S. port-of-entry.
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