Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What should I do? Where should I go? Helpful Itinerary for Lost/Stolen Documents Or What you should do if your Passport, Visa, and Arrival/Departure Records (Form I-94) were Stolen or Lost.

Passports, Visas, and Arrival/Departure Records (admission stamp or paper Form I-94) are official travel documents that foreign citizens coming to the U.S. must have in their possession to show their country of citizenship and legal status in the United States.

We are always encourage travelers to make copies of the passports and visas, along with a Form I-94, promptly upon their arrival to the U.S. and although copies are not substitute for original documents, having copies could be of tremendous help if your original document are stolen or lost.
Oftentimes, we are getting phone calls from foreign visitors or foreigner workers crying for help in situation when their identity documents such as passports, visas and Form I-94 were stolen or lost.
First, we ask the caller to calm down. If the traveler is temporarily in the United States, and loses his/her U.S. visa, he/she can remain for the duration of his/her authorized stay, as shown on his/her admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. If foreign national was issued a paper Form I-94 and it was lost or stolen, he/she must get it replaced immediately.
Surely, foreign national needs a valid passport to depart the United States and to enter another country.

If the passport, visa and a Form I-94 were stolen or lost, there are a number of steps that must be taken:
1.  Police Report.  
Promptly visit the local police station and report lost or stolen documents. You will be getting a police report detailing the incident. Don’t forget to make a copy of the police report.  

2.      Request Replacement of a Stolen/Lost Arrival and Departure Record (Form I-94).
      New visitors may retrieve their arrival records by visiting Customs and Border Protection  website at  https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.htmlIn some situations, if the admission record occurred prior to automation, you will be required to file for replacement with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at www.uscis.gov. Unfortunately, it will be time consuming and will require a fee.

3.      Report Stolen/Lost Passport to Your Embassy. 
      Contact nearby embassy or consular for the country of your citizenship to obtain information about the procedure to replace a lost or stolen passport.

4.      Report Stolen/Lost Visa to U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.                                       
      To report your visa lost or stolen, email the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the United States which issued your visa. When emailing to the U.S.  Embassy or Consulate include your full name, date of birth, place of birth, address in the United States, and an e-mail address. Specifically state whether the visa was lost or stolen. If you have a copy of the passport or visa, scan and email this to the embassy or consulate. Otherwise, if known, report the category of visa, and the passport number from  the lost/stolen visa.
Please Note that If you have already reported your visa lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and then you later find your misplaced visa, then your visa will be invalid for future travel to the United States.  Therefore, in that situation you must apply for a new visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

5.      Apply for a Visa Replacement.
Unfortunately, if U.S. visa was lost or stolen, you will have to apply for a Visa replacement at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. When applying for replacement, you will need to apply in person, have a written documents pertaining the loss of passport/visa and include a copy of the police report.

Hint, if you don’t have a copy machine to make a copy of your passport, visa, admission stamp and a Form I-94, use your cell phone camera to have a photo of your valuable documents.

Having this practical Itinerary, an access to the Internet and if possible a cell phone with a camera, You will not be lost in the United States.  

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