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CBP Urges Mexican Holiday Travelers to Apply Early for I94 Documents at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa POE
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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced that the Mexican border crossing card (or “laser visa”) holders who plan to make an extended visit to the United States during the December holiday season will be able to obtain an essential visit document faster and more conveniently due to a change in processing procedure being implemented at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border stations. Beginning Dec. 14, travelers seeking I-94 documents at the San Ysidro port of entry may apply at any time, day or night, up to 30-days in advance rather than waiting in line during the busy holidays when almost 3,000 visitors apply daily for the permit.

Mexican travelers may also apply anytime for the document during the same period at the Port of Otay Mesa pedestrian facility. 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.

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, said San Ysidro Port Director Oscar Preciado. Due to the large holiday demand and extremely limited parking at the San Ysidro port, issuance of permits in the vehicle secondary inspection area for those arriving in automobiles may be suspended during peak periods. To ensure they receive their documents in time, Preciado urged that travelers enter the U.S. on-foot as soon as convenient and apply at the old port building. Because parking at the Otay Mesa border station also is limited, travelers are encouraged to arrive at the pedestrian facility on-foot if possible.

In the words of Preciado, "This expanded service during one of the busiest times of the year should reduce traffic congestion at the ports and result in improved service that is safer, more convenient and faster,” he also added, “We hope the Mexican traveling public will take advantage of this significant improvement in service"

As the busiest land border port in the nation with 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 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.

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.

Preciado cautioned that all family members who plan to apply for the documents need to be present during the application process. Those requesting the permits also must be able to establish financial solvency and proof of residency outside the U.S., he said.

The expanded hours of service at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border stations will end on Jan. 6, 2007. CBP concurrently will launch a similar program at the downtown Calexico port of entry to facilitate the application process for Mexicali travelers.

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