Automatic Revalidation of Expired Nonimmigrant Visas

Re-entry to the United States with an expired visa is normally prohibited for nonimmigrants. However, in certain situations, the requirement for a valid visa is relaxed. The US Department of State refers to this program as automatic revalidation.

F-1 and J-1  visa holders are allowed to re-enter the United States with an expired visa stamp after a short trip to Canada or Mexico or an adjacent island nation (see list below), as long as they meet all eligibility requirements explained below. 

Eligibility for Automatic Revalidation

.Under automatic revalidation, re-entry with an expired visa is permitted ONLY when:

  • You are traveling only to contiguous territories and adjacent islands: Canada, Mexico and the specific Caribbean Islands listed at the bottom of this page. 
  • You are outside the U.S  for 30 days or less.
  • F-1 or J-1 status has been maintained and you are entering the U.S. to continue in F-1 or J-1 status. Students on OPT may be eligible, provided they maintained status and comply with all requirements explained here. 
  • You have a valid Form 1-94 printed and in your possession at the time entry and the current 1-20 or DS-2019 endorsed for travel. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of re-entry to the U.S., unless your country is a member of the so-called “six-month club.”
  • You are applying for re-entry to the United States before the program end date listed on the I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Citizens of countries determined to be state sponsors of terrorism by the Secretary of State are NOT eligible for this program. Currently, citizens of Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria are not eligible for Automatic Revalidation. 
  • You did not apply for a US Visa while outside the U.S. 

Other important considerations include

  • If you apply for a visa while outside the U.S., then you are not eligible for Automatic Revalidation. This means that nonimmigrants cannot apply to renew their visa in one of these countries (Canada, Mexico, adjacent islands) AND use the Automatic Revalidation program to return to the United States while their visa renewal is pending or after it has been denied.
  • If the trip includes travel to countries other than those addressed under Automatic Revalidation or exceeds a total of 30 days, students must make arrangements for visa renewal before returning to the United States.
  • A student whose visa has been cancelled or revoked is not eligible for automatic revalidation.
  • Students with new passports not containing the visa must carry both the passport containing the visa as well as the new valid passport.
Please refer to the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection websites for the most up-to-date information on determining eligibility.

Automatic Revalidation Travel Procedures

To take advantage of automatic revalidation, a F-1 or J-1 student must have a valid I-94. Students with electronic I-94 records should travel with a printed copy of the I-94. If you were issued a paper I-94 card, make sure the airline or border official does not take your Paper Form I-94 Card upon departure from the United States. All travelers must also carry their other immigration documents (passport, I-20/DS-2019).  When returning to the United States, you should be re-admitted using the same Form I-94.

Before departing the United States to visit an eligible country using Automatic Revalidation, be sure that you have the necessary visas to visit the countries on your planned itinerary. 

Automatic Revalidation Questions