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San Ysidro, Calif. CBP Reminds Travelers of Change in I-94 Permit Application Process

(Thursday, March 27, 2008)

San Ysidro, Calif. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are reminding Mexican travelers seeking I-94 permits of a new policy beginning April 1 at the Port of San Ysidro that will no longer allow travelers to park their vehicles on port property due to the lack of parking facilities and impending construction projects.

Mexican travelers with laser visas will be required to leave their vehicles in Mexico and to apply on-foot for the necessary travel document at the Old Port building just south of the pedestrian facility.

Port officials recently shifted all I-94 permit operations out of a small structure adjacent to the vehicle secondary inspection lot and have centralized processing activity closer to the border so that travelers may conveniently walk to the facility.

The number of permit processing booths at the Old Port building has doubled to eight and an additional pay booth has been added. The facility now is open 24-hours daily for service, said Oscar Preciado, San Ysidro port director.

These changes were made out of necessity because of the intense parking problem in our vehicle secondary lot and construction projects that will commence soon, Preciado said. We have increased our capacity to service travelers by increasing the number of work stations and we will keep the Old Port building open seven days a week to offer more convenience to travelers.

In the past, travelers typically applied on the day of their planned trip to the U.S. and stood up to three hours in a line that stretched around the vehicle secondary inspection area, causing safety problems and parking congestion, Preciado said.

As the busiest land border port in the nation with 50,000-65,000 vehicles and 35,000 pedestrians daily entering the U.S. through its gates, the San Ysidro facility is one of the Southwest border stations most affected by heavy holiday I-94 processing.

Planned construction projects at the port, including a reconfiguration of the vehicle secondary inspection area and, later this year, the start of Phase 1 of the port reconstruction project will require that all intensive vehicle inspections be shifted north into the parking area now used by travelers who drive into the port to apply for permits.

Permit seekers using the San Ysidro facility should plan to leave their vehicles in Mexico and travel on-foot to the old port building on the pedestrian walkway just across the border. Because the building is located in front of the pedestrian entrance to the port, travelers will not need to make formal entry into the U.S. and can conveniently walk back to Mexico, Preciado said.

He also notes, We plan to add signage at the border instructing travelers who only want to apply for their permits but who do not plan to make formal entry into the U.S. to walk to the front of the pedestrian waiting line and ask the U.S. guards for permission to enter the Old Port building.

Due to the large demand during the holiday season, Preciado urged Mexican travelers to apply for their permits as soon as possible rather than waiting in line during the busy weekend when almost 3,000 visitors apply daily for the permit.

The essential permit, which costs $6, allows visitors to travel further than 25 miles from the border and to stay up to six months in the U.S. Last year, the port issued almost 420,000 I-94 documents and expects to issue 28,000 permits during the upcoming holiday season.

Mexican travelers may also apply for the document at the Port of Otay Mesa pedestrian facility daily between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Because parking at the Otay Mesa border station also is limited, travelers are encouraged to arrive at the pedestrian facility on-foot if possible.

All traveling family members need to be present during the I-94 application process. Those requesting the permits also must be able to establish financial solvency and proof of residency outside the U.S., Preciado said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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