If you entered the U.S. with a visa, you may have received an I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. This comparatively small and usually white or green card staples into your passport. If you want to extend your stay, transfer to a different visa status or apply for legal permanent residency, you probably need a copy of your I-94.
Because the I-94 is cardstock, it is vulnerable to damage and destruction. If you use your passport frequently, the staple that holds the card in place also may detach. Consequently, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection now issues electronic arrival and departure records that are difficult to lose.
Replacing a lost, stolen or damaged card
If your entry occurred before the CBP started issuing electronic records, you may need to replace a lost, stolen or damaged I-94 card. To do so, you must file a request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It may take up to six months for the USCIS to process your request, so you may need to plan ahead. Likewise, if someone stole your card, you should probably also file a police report.
Paying for USCIS processing
It may come as no surprise to you that the USCIS charges a steep fee to issue you a replacement I-94 record. Currently, the filing fee is $445. If your application stems from a government error, though, you should have to pay nothing.
Having a complete set of your immigration-related paperwork makes sense for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, if you need to obtain a new I-94, correctly documenting your request may fast-track the approval process.