Changes in Refugee I-94

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced changes in how Form I-94 (record of admission) will be generated for refugees. Historically, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued paper I-94 cards to refugees upon their arrival. The CBP officer would stamp the card indicating that the person had been admitted as a refugee with indefinite status to remain in the U.S.

Now, in place of issuing the I-94 card, the CBP officer will enter the refugee’s arrival record into the electronic database, and the refugee can access and print his/her I-94 by going to www.cbp.gov/i94. The new electronic I-94 will no longer include an admission stamp. Instead, the refugee’s status will be denoted in the Class of Admission field as “RE.” The electronic I-94 will show “D/S” for status validity period, rather than “Indefinite.” This change of notation does not alter the permanency of a refugee’s status in the U.S.

For I-9 purposes, refugees may choose to present a List A document or a combination of List B and List C documents. If the refugee elects to presents an electronic I-94, the employer must accept it as a List A “receipt” for 90 days. This receipt establishes the refugee’s identity and employment eligibility. By the end of the 90-day period, this receipt must be replaced by either an Employment Authorization Document (a List A document) or a combination of a List B and an unrestricted Social Security card (a List C document).

Refugees are in the U.S. to rebuild their devastated lives. The business community can provide much needed support and opportunities allowing them to become self-sufficient. If you have any questions about refugee I-9 or employment eligibility issues, please contact MSEC’s Immigration Services at 800.884.1328 or at immigration@msec.org.