EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection is encouraging travelers to plan ahead for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel season and include applying for I-94 travel permits online.

“CBP is preparing for the added traffic flow commonly experienced in late November through early January,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operation Hector Mancha. “While CBP leaders will monitor traffic flows and adjust staffing accordingly, visitors and shoppers arriving from Mexico should also consider time-saving facilitation measures such as filing and prepaying their tourist permit applications electronically via the CBP One™ mobile app.”

Travelers can apply for their tourist permits online via the CBP One™ mobile application, available on Google Play or Apple App Store or through http://i94.cbp.dhs.gov, according to CBP.

Travelers receive a provisional I-94 after submitting their application and payment online. To finalize the I-94 process, travelers must present themselves at a port of entry within seven days of their application to be interviewed by a CBP officer, submit biometric finger scans and a photo is taken.

The mobile app serves as a single portal to a variety of CBP services. Through a series of guided questions, the app will direct each type of user to the appropriate services based on their needs.

CBP says the I-94 Entry feature allows travelers to apply for a provisional I-94 prior to arriving at a land border crossing. Travelers who apply for their I-94 ahead of time will experience faster processing times to expedite entry.

Travelers can also quickly access their current I-94 submission to view critical information such as, how long they can remain in the U.S., and use it for proof of visitor status once in the United States, according to CBP.

Travelers should download the free app on their web-enabled smart device. Note that a free login.gov account is required to use the app. After opening the app, tap “Sign In with Login.gov”.

  • Travelers who do not have a login.gov account should “Create an account” and follow the instructions. 
  • Travelers who already have a login.gov account should sign into their existing account, and will be redirected back to the app. 

After signing into the app, users can access the different CBP services based on their specific needs.

Other measures to prepare ahead of travel season include the following:

  • Monitor Border Wait Times or also obtain the BWT app via Apple App Store and Google Play (CBP BWT) so that travelers can observe the wait times and make an informed decision on which bridge to use. These wait times are updated on an hourly basis. The City of El Paso also has live camera feeds at three of El Paso’s international bridges which travelers can use as a resource.
  • Avoid any potential delays or fines due to travelers bringing prohibited/restricted agricultural items, CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival and before making their journey to consult the Know Before You Go guide.

“Being prepared for the inspection process and declaring all items that are being brought from Mexico to the U.S. will save time and help travelers avoid potential penalties,” said Mancha. “Travelers should also expect longer than normal crossing times and adjust their travel schedules accordingly.”