Automatic Visa Revalidation for Aliens in F or J Status
What is “Automatic Visa Revalidation?”
A better name for this would be “automatic status revalidation,” because the process has little to do with the actual visa. What it means is that, if you go to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands* for a period less than 30 days, you may come back into the United States without a valid visa if you can show that you had valid F or J status when you left and that you are entitled to resume that status when you come back in. The documents necessary to prove that are a valid passport plus a valid I-94 and valid I-20/DS-2019 which has a recent endorsement for travel. Your visa may have expired, but you would still be permitted to re-enter the U.S. to resume your nonimmigrant status. In fact, even if you originally had a different visa and status (B2 or F2, for example) but then got a new I-94 (and I-20 or DS-2019) showing that you successfully changed your status to F or J, those same documents mentioned above would be enough to permit your re-entry.
Who is eligible for this benefit?
If you are in F or J status, you may apply for this benefit if you:
- have not been absent from the United States for more than 30 days and have been only in Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands;
- have been maintaining your F or J status and both intend to and are eligible to resume that status upon re-entry;
- are carrying a valid passport, unless exempt from passport requirements. (If you have been issued a new passport while inside the United States, you must also be carrying your old passport that contains your original non-immigrant visa.);
- have not applied for a new visa while outside the United States;
- are not from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria**;
- are carrying a current, valid I-94 and a valid, recently-endorsed I-20 or DS-2019.
Obtaining a Mexican or Canadian visa: Please check to see if you are required to have a visa to visit Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Please go online to contact the appropriate consulate for more information
*Adjacent islands: include Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean.
**Warning to citizens of other NSEERS countries (those subject to “special registration”): It is not advisable to leave the United States if your visa has expired; you may not be granted this benefit of “automatic visa revalidation” when you attempt to return