Under the automatic visa revalidation rule, nonimmigrants with expired nonimmigrant visas who seek to return to the U.S. may be admitted at a U.S. port of entry after brief travel to Canada or Mexico if they meet certain requirements.
Automatic Visa Revalidation Rule
If you are in valid nonimmigrant status and plan to travel only to Canada or Mexico (or an adjacent island for F and J nonimmigrants only) without traveling to a third country, you may be eligible to re-enter the United States without presenting a valid visa stamp under the automatic visa revalidation rule. Under this rule, if you have an expired visa in your passport, it can be “revalidated” for the purposes of allowing you return to the United States after brief travel to Canada or Mexico. Travel to a third country during your trip would make you ineligible for this benefit.
To qualify, you must:
- Be in possession of a valid Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, endorsed by DHS to show an unexpired period of initial admission, change of status, or extension of stay [this includes a Form I-94 issued as part of an H-1B approval notice];
- Apply for readmission into the United States after an absence not exceeding 30 days in ONLY Canada and/or Mexico;
- Have maintained valid nonimmigrant status throughout your period of stay in the U.S. and intend to resume valid nonimmigrant status;
- Apply for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission or extension of stay granted by USCIS;
- Possess a valid passport for 6 months or more beyond your intended period of stay, and
- Have not applied for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico. If you apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico, you may not return to the U.S. until the new visa has been issued.
Automatic visa revalidation is available to nationals of all countries except those identified as a state sponsor of terrorism (currently Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea). Should you travel to Canada or Mexico, we would also remind you that there may be visa requirements for entry into those countries.
F and J nonimmigrants may also take advantage of the AVR if traveling for less than 30 days to one of the islands adjacent to the United States. Adjacent islands are defined as Saint Pierre, Miquelon, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbads, Jamaica, the Winward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering the Caribbean Sea (INA Section 101(b)(5).
Please be sure to consult an attorney for travel advice specific to your circumstances.