Automatic Visa Revalidation - Travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean

Automatic Visa Revalidation for Re-entry to the United States

Generally, an F-1 or J-1 student must present a valid, unexpired F-1 or J-1visa each time he or she reenters the United States.  If a student's F-1 or J-1 visa expires while he or she is in the United States, or if the student changed to F-1 or J-1 status from some other nonimmigrant status, the next time they travel abroad they must obtain a new F-1 or J-1 visa in order to be readmitted to the United States in F-1 or J-1 status.

An exception to this rule exists for F-1 and J-1 students and their dependents who travel for less than 30 days solely to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands in the Caribbean (except Cuba). The expired F or J visas of such aliens are considered to be "extended" to the date of re-entry, eliminating the need to obtain a new visa at a U.S. consulate before that particular reentry. This benefit also applies to nonimmigrants who have changed to F or J status in the United States, whose visa is still in the category which they used to enter the United States. In that case, the visa is considered "converted" to the proper visa category as well as "extended" to allow re-entry. This benefit is often referred to as "automatic revalidation."

Restrictions on Automatic Revalidation

Automatic Revalidation does not apply to:

  • Students traveling from a contiguous territory (e.g. Canada) to a noncontiguous territory (e.g. India) with the intention of returning to the United States via a contiguous territory (Canada).
  • Citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
  • Students whose visa has been cancelled.
  • Students who have applied for a visa renewal in a contiguous territory and are awaiting a decision (visa has not been issued). Certain individuals will be subject to a security clearance and should expect delays of 20 business days or longer. If the visa application is denied, students cannot re-enter the United States until they obtain a new visa from the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country.

Documents Needed to Re-enter Under Automatic Revalidation when Traveling from a Contiguous Territory

  • Electronic or paper Form I-94 valid for an unexpired period of admission or extension of stay, or for duration of status (D/S).
  • A current Form I-20 or DS-2019 endorsed for reentry by an ISSS advisor.
  • Valid passport for a minimum of six months beyond the re-entry date to the U.S.
  • Proof of full-time enrollment is highly recommended, but not required.
  • Proof of financial support is highly recommended, but not required.
  • Required entry documents (e.g. visitor's visa) for the country they are visiting.
Required documents for F-2 and J-2 dependents:
  • Active Form I-20 or DS-2019, which has been signed by an FIT immigration advisor within six months prior to the re-entry date.
  • Valid passport for a minimum of six months beyond the re-entry date to the U.S.

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