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Should you be concerned that your passport wasn’t stamped when you arrived in the U.S. Why wasn’t it stamped in the first place? Are their any consequences to the same?
If these are the questions troubling you, putting a dent in your vacation or business trip to the U.S., this article shall cover everything you need to know about why you were let in with an unstamped passport and if it should bother you.
Stamps on Passports are legal proof that a person entered a country for a set period. Most stamps specify the stamping date, the period of time for which the person is allowed to stay, and the type of travel.
Why Are Passports Stamped Upon Arrival in the Us?
When non-immigrants enter the United States, the Customs Border Protection (CBP) officer issues a passport admission stamp or a small white card called the Form I-94 after inspecting their relevant documents (passport and visa). This stamp is proof of the legality of their arrival and their stay in the country.
As far as US citizens are concerned, their passports are usually not stamped by the CBP. But sometimes, the officers may stamp a US passport at their discretion or upon request by the person.
Why Did My Passport Not Get Stamped Upon Arrival in the Us?
Passport Stamps may hold an aesthetic value for some and could be a souvenir for others but the Future of Travel is Digital, which means lesser paperwork and effective technologically driven traveling practices. More and more countries, including the US, are transitioning from paperwork to efficient automated practices like RFID Chip Technology, Biometrics, Self Service Booths, to name a few.
Hence is the move from passport stamps to digital entry records. In the wake of heavy airport traffic and the shortage of stamps, smart practices like these are not only efficacious but are also time-saving.
As soon as your passport gets scanned upon arrival, your entry into the US gets electronically recorded. This record (Electronic I-94) includes relevant information like the date and status of your arrival and the period of your stay.
Although the work gets done digitally, you must ensure that all the information therein is correct. You can check the status of your entry record at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov, and we recommend you get a printout of the same if your unstamped passport is making you toss and turn in your bed.
Simply put, the Passport Stamping in the US has gone digital for non-immigrants arriving by air and sea, and thereby, your digital I-94 record is your Stamp!
Would an Unstamped Passport Land Me in Trouble?
Well, this is the most important question of all and is most likely the reason why you ended up reading this article. Should your unstamped passport be a cause of concern for you?
Don’t let the distress get the best of you because the simple answer is NO. Although the I-94 digital entry does not necessarily rule out the possibility of Stamping, it is improbable that the lack of an entry stamp on your passport will cause you trouble. But considering a highly unlikely situation, when it does, then all you have to do is present your I-94 record, and you’re good to go.
Passport Stamping While Exiting the Us
There will be no stamp on your exit from the United States simply because the Exit process doesn’t include any Customs and Border Protection checks. But the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) does keep a record of your departure, which is facilitated by-:
- Your carrier service shares your exit information with the CBP if you were issued an electronic I-94.
- If you arrived by land and were issued a paper I-94, you will have to relinquish it to the commercial carrier of the CBP.
Stamping Process at the Us Airport
We get how muddling it can get thinking about all such procedures, especially if it’s your first-ever trip to the States. So we have decoded the Passport Stamping process below.
- The CBP officer will verify your identity and VISA details and ask you a few questions relating to your purpose of visit, among others. Once the officer is satisfied, he will proceed with passport scanning and stamping.
- Passport Scan: You’ll be asked to complete all the steps in the Automated Passport Control (APC) Machine, after which a paper is issued to you, consisting of your information and photo. This step ensures that your I-94 entry is made. After this, the CBP officer stamps your passport. This reflects the date of your arrival and the period of your stay in the US, which will also be manifested in your I-94.
But if you fail the verification process or somehow gave skeptical answers to the questions asked by the CBP officials, you can very well be refused entry and sent back to your country. In the worst-case scenario, several prohibitions may also be put in place to bar you from further entry into the United States.
Electronic I-94 Form vs Paper I-94 Travel Record
Upon entering the United States, the CBP official will scan your passport or enter your information into an electronic database, and
- If you are a foreigner arriving by sea or air, an Electronic I-94 will be issued. At this point, your passport may or may not get stamped. You are also not bound to carry a printout version of the same.
- A small white card (paper version of the I-94) is issued to foreigners arriving by land and is attached to their passports.
(More on I-94 in the FAQs section)
Q.1. Can the I-94 record be used to revalidate the VISA?
A. Yes, the I-94 record can be used to revalidate your US VISA.
A valid I-94 form can also be used by non-immigrants for Automatic Revalidation to re-enter the US. More information on https://www.cbp.gov/
Q.2. My passport was not stamped on arrival in the US. Would it impact my VISA extension?
A. No. As long as you have an electronic I-94 record, you will not face any issues in VISA extension due to non-stamping.
Q.3. Will I be denied re-entry into the US if my passport was not stamped the last time I arrived in the country?
A. No, the CBP officials will not deny you entry on these grounds. Again your last I-94 record will come into the picture as it is the paramount proof of your previous entry and stay in the US.
Q.4. On what grounds can I be denied entry into the US even if I have a valid VISA?
A. The CBP may deny you entry into the US despite having a VISA if you have a criminal background, improper documents, and for not cooperating with the airport officials.
We’re sure now you’d be packing your bags with a renewed zeal!
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