Visitor Arrivals Program (I-94 Form)

Program Description

  What is it?

The International Visitor Arrivals Program is a core part of the U.S. travel and tourism statistical system. This program provides the U.S. government and the public with the official U.S. monthly and annual overseas visitor arrivals to the United States along with select Mexican and Canadian visitor statistics. The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) manages the program in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The program collects and reports overseas non-U.S. resident visitor arrivals to the United States. U.S. government data consists of the DHS I-94 data, which non-U.S. citizens, from overseas and Mexico must 'complete' to enter the United States.

  What information is published?

All visitation data is processed by residency (world region and country) for the following categories:

  • Month and YTD of arrivals
  • Type of visa (business, pleasure, student)
  • Mode of transportation (air, land, sea)
  • Age of traveler (7 age groupings, mean and median)
  • First Intended Address in the U.S. (or Address while in the U.S.) (state)
  • U.S. port of entry (main gateway ports - all modes and air-only)
  • Select percentage change comparisons year-over-year

The Summary of International Travel to the United States report has 35 tables highlighting the categories above.

NTTO publishes arrivals data to its website on a monthly basis. See the monthly statistics section. Annual reports are also posted to the site. See Inbound Travel to the U.S. section. The Department of Commerce also uses these visitor arrival data internally to help calculate U.S. travel and tourism export figures, trade balance and GDP. These data are also used as the base or "N" for NTTO's Survey of International Air Travelers Program.

Customized tables and reports can be developed based on the same categories. For example, if one needed to know how many Japanese male travelers on a business visa between the ages of 25 and 50 arrived through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on a Friday with the first intended address (address while in the U.S.) being Nevada... that could be determined!

  How is the DHS I-94 data collected?

CBP has automated the I-94 arrival/departure recordkeeping function. Phase one enabled the creation of an electronic I-94W records for all travelers who are citizens of visa-waiver countries (VWP). Source data includes elements from the ESTA record, U.S. Visit/Entry, the passenger’s machine readable passport and CBP agent system entries during intake. Since the completion of phase one, manual data entry (key punching) of the I-94W forms has been eliminated. Phase two addressed the automation of I-94 records for non-VWP travelers. Source data includes elements from the visa issuance records, forwarded by the Department of State, U.S. Visit/Entry, passport and agent entries. Phase two was completed in April 2013. Therefore, manual data entry (key punching) of the I-94 data elements has also been eliminated. The I-94A records, for Mexican citizens entering over the southern land border, intending to travel to the U.S. ‘interior’ are also automated. A full explanation is available in the program Methodology. Also, a set of ‘frequently asked questions’ (Q&As) on I-94 Automation are available for your review.

  What is the Definition of a Traveler?

In 2014, I-94 Program data reflect better conformity with UNWTO’s one-plus night definition of a traveler. An accurate determination of how many nights were spent in the United States has not been possible until the completion of the I-94 Automation project. To account for the number of nights, the ‘departure’ record must be captured and matched to the arrival document. And in the past, the collection of the departure record was dependent on the rigor of airline gate agents and the ability of each departing visitor to tender their I-94 departure document. Evidence has indicated that a significant number of departure records were not turned in. But with the I-94 Automation project complete at air and sea ports, it is possible to now be more inclusive of one night stays given that the arrival-departure record match is now more complete and accurate.

What Methodology Change Occurred in 2015?

With I-94 Automation (April 30, 2013) the U.S. Department of Homeland security (DHS)/Customs and Border Protection (CBP) introduced new business rules governing I-94 creation which are now based on a given traveler’s Country of Citizenship as indicated by the passport Country of Issuance. The Country of Residence is another field that is ‘sometimes’ captured in the new system. And the increase use of Automated Passport Control (APC) Kiosks (May 2013) through U.S. airports is capturing data in keeping with this new business rule. Only when available, does CBP now populate the Country of Residence field in the I-94 data base. As a result there has been an increase in I-94 records with no residency data (Stateless records). In 2014 519,000 records were processed where the Country of Residence field was vacant, 1.5% of all overseas records. However, during the first four months of 2015 approximately 300,000 records (11% of all overseas records) were missing residency data, affecting mainly international visitors from Visa waiver Program countries, specifically the United Kingdom. NTTO identified this large spike of Stateless records and determined that it was necessary to re-run 2014 and 2015 I-94 data to include a methodology change where the Country of Citizenship is used as a substitute for those I-94 records with missing Country of Residence data.