If you have just been admitted to the United States, either as a beginning student or even as a returning one, and if you have not yet checked your I-94 arrival document, you might want to do so. Keep in mind that the I-94 is no longer a hardcopy piece of paper that you fill out while on the airplane, and which the immigration officer stamps during your inspection. Rather, the I-94 is stored electronically on the web site of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
This change to electronic format is a “two edged sword.” That is, it has good points and potential problems ones as well. On the one hand, you no longer have to worry about losing a hardcopy I-94, and paying a couple hundred dollars to apply for a replacement. On the other hand, the issue of “out of sight, out of mind” arises. Not having an immediate copy of the I-94 might lead some people to forget about it, in particular to forget about their “admitted until” date. This date is important for you because you normally must leave the US on or before that date. Staying beyond this date, even if unintentional, could cause problems.
For this reason, downloading and confirming your I-94 information is a good idea. Double-check, in particular, your "admitted until" date, and make a note of it. More importantly, make sure it is correct, and not earlier than what you expect. If you were admitted in F-1 or J-1 status, you normally would be admitted for “duration of status,” so your I-94 would say "admitted until: D/S," rather than indicating a specific date. If you are admitted as D/S, it means you may stay lawfully in the US indefinitely, so long as you maintain the conditions of your status.
To download your I-94, visit the following site and have the necessary information available: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html
This material is for general information only. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Calvin Sun, 610-296-3947, firstname.lastname@example.org