Occasionally we get an immigrant/alien in our office who was admitted to the United States legally, but is still considered EWI (entry without inspection) by the government. For those new to the immigration law arena, EWI is a criminal act. A double EWI can lead to a permanent bar from the US, and a single EWI can bar any change of status while in the US, and prevent entry (via visa) into the US for up to 10 years. Theses are serious consequences!
The burden on proving lawful entry into the US rests with the alien. He/She must show a valid I-94 stamp or document in his/her passport to rebut the presumption of illegal entry. What happens if you enter the US and don't get an I-94? Happens all the time.
Most common example is Canada. Cars are frequently passed through the border crossing with only a cursory glance at ID or passports -- especially if one of the members in the vehicle is a US Citizen. Entry through a valid border -- even if just waived thru by the CBP (custom and border patrol officer) is a valid entry and not EWI.
To fix the problem, we use a form I-102. An expensive solution, but effective for obtaining an I-94 when you entered AT A VALID BORDER CROSSING, but did not receive an I-94. The processing fee is ~$350, and requires evidence that you were there. Usually an affidavit from other passengers in the care is sufficient to provide the evidence needed. Processing is roughly 90 days from submission (although, if can take significantly longer if USCIS loses your paperwork).
It is VERY important you contact a lawyer prior to submitting your I-102. You will want a G28 to accompany your paperwork to ensure nothing gets lost, and you will want an attorney to review your submission PRIOR to mailing, to ensure you aren't missing anything.
Hanover Law has been managing immigration matters for some time. We have extensive experience with just about every aspect of immigration practice -- including I-102 and lost I-94's. We can help! Contact us to setup and appointment, or to speak with one of our attorneys on the phone.
Sean R. Hanover, Esq
HanoverLawPC.com (Immigration page)