Automatic Revalidation of Expired Nonimmigrant Visas
Re-entry to the United States with an expired visa is normally not allowed for nonimmigrants. In limited situations, under automatic revalidation, the requirement for a valid visa is relaxed.
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 a neighboring island nation (see list below), as long as they meet all eligibility requirements.
Eligibility for Automatic Revalidation
.Under automatic revalidation, re-entry with an expired visa is permitted ONLY when:
You are traveling only to neighboring countries 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.
To take advantage of automatic revalidation, a F-1 or J-1 student must have a valid I-94. Students should travel with a printed copy of the I-94. 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
Currently the following are considered neighboring countries and adjacent islands for automatic revalidation:
St. Pierre and Miquelon
Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and the British Virgin Islands)
Windward Islands (Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent)
Other British, French, or Dutch territories or possessions, in or bordering the Caribbean Sea.
The list of eligible Caribbean Islands can be found here.
No! As stated above, to be eligible for Automatic Revalidation, you must travel only to a neighboring country or an adjacent island. If you stop in any country not listed above you are no longer eligible for Automatic Revalidation. Therefore you need a valid U.S. visa to enter the U.S. in this situation.
If citizens of your country are normally required to have a visa to travel to Canada, then yes, you must have a valid Canadian visa if you plan to travel to Canada. You can find the list of citizenships requiring a Canadian visa here. Using Automatic Revalidation does not eliminate any visa requirements for Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands.