By: Steve Masur
All expats know and share the struggle of dealing with U.S. administrative, fiscal, and immigration-related processes and issues. Do yourself a favor and request an ink stamp in your passport during your next entry in the U.S.
As an expat in the U.S., it’s important to stay informed about the latest updates regarding immigration and entry procedures.
In the past year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made changes to the arrival procedure entering the United States (notably via air): there is now a stamp-less entry for noncitizens, meaning that you will no longer automatically receive an ink stamp in your passport at entry.
However, you may request a stamp from the CBP officer during your entry interview, and we recommend that you do so.
As a reminder, if you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, it’s essential that you download your I-94 and your I-94 history from CBP’s website each and every time you enter the United States. The CBP’s online system is not always accurate and prone to glitches, so you need to make sure the information on record is accurate, and if not, promptly take the necessary action to correct it.
It’s important to note that the stamp-less entry applies to both nonimmigrant visa holders and permanent residents. Consider how physical stamps may come in handy:
- Nonimmigrant visa holders may have to rely on passport ink stamps as evidence acceptable to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), regarding subjects such as maintenance of status and recapturing time outside the U.S. for H/L visas holders.
- Permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship may have to rely on passport ink stamps for documenting absences outside the U.S. since the CBP’s website does not track their travel history. Without ink stamps, your only evidence of international travel would be airline emails, itineraries, and travel receipts.
Both nonimmigrant visa holders and permanent residents may find ink stamps helpful or even required in other situations, such as for determining fiscal residence (for U.S. tax purposes) or when dealing with the Social Security Agency or state DMVs.
Therefore, we highly recommend that you request an ink stamp from the CBP officer during each admission to the United States. This will help ensure that you have proper records and avoid any potential issues down the road.