SAN DIEGO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in San Diego are anticipating an increase in applications by Mexican travelers for the required I-94 permit during the Easter holiday season and spring break. Mexican border crossing card (or "laser visa") holders who plan to make an extended visit to the United States during the upcoming travel season are urged to obtain the essential document early instead of waiting until the day of travel.
"We urge travelers to obtain the required document as much as a week or two early to avoid congestion and potential delays," said Pete Flores, director of field operations for the ports of entry on the California border with Mexico. "If they apply now they will obtain the essential document faster and more conveniently. Travelers may obtain the permit 24 hours a day at both the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports."
Under U.S. immigration law, an applicant for admission into the U.S. as a temporary visitor for business or pleasure must prove to a CBP officer that their projected stay in the U.S. will be temporary.
Unless otherwise exempted, each foreign traveler admitted into the United States is issued an I-94 permit (arrival/departure record), as evidence of the terms of their admission.
Mexican citizens entering the country through the southern land border with a border crossing card ("laser visa") are exempted from the requirement for an I-94 permit unless they are intending to remain in the U.S. for more than 30-days and/or will travel more than 25 miles from the border. Applicants who present a border crossing card (or laser visa) are not eligible to work in the United States.
Those applicants requiring an I-94 permit must demonstrate that they are financially solvent and have sufficiently strong ties to their country of origin, including a home abroad they do not intend to abandon.
"Ties" are the various aspects of a person's life that bind him or her to his or her country or residence. Some examples of ways to document these ties can be pay stubs for a person's employment/income, a house or apartment mortgage or rental receipt, bank account records, utility bills, etc.
It is not possible to specify the documents applicants for admission should carry, since each applicant's circumstances vary greatly. Applicants should carry with them whatever documents they think demonstrate their individual circumstances.
All traveling family members need to be present during the I-94 application process.
The I-94 permit, which costs $6, allows visitors to travel further than 25 miles from the border and remain in the U.S. for more than 30 days.
By U.S. law, a foreign traveler must possess his or her entry documents, and if required, the I-94 permit, with them at all times while in the United States.
In addition, at checkpoints, U.S. Border Patrol agents check foreign travelers for entry documents and the I-94 permit. Travelers not in possession of their entry documents and an I-94 permit may have their visa cancelled and be deported from the United States.
More information about the CBP form for an I-94 permit can be found online at Entering the U.S. - Documents required for Foreign Nationals (International Travelers).
As the busiest land border port in the nation with 35,000-40,000 vehicles and 20,000 pedestrians daily entering the U.S. through its gates, the San Ysidro facility is one of the Southwest border stations most affected by heavy holiday I-94 processing.