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Automatic Revalidation of Visa Rules (Travel to/from Canada or Mexico)

Introduction

Most foreign nationals traveling to the United States U.S. are required to possess both a valid passport and a valid U.S. visa to apply for admission to the U.S. "Automatic visa revalidation" allows a foreign national with an expired nonimmigrant visa (NIV) to apply for re-entry to the United States after a visit to Canada or Mexico, using a valid, unexpired I-94 in place of a valid NIV.

Requirements

The requirements are not complicated. The person seeking re-entry must:

  • be returning to the U.S. from a visit to Canada or Mexico of less than 30 days duration. (Note: This procedure is not available if any other countries are visited while the person is outside the U.S.);
  • possess a valid, unexpired Form I-94. (In the case of F and J nonimmigrants, they must also have a current I-20 or DS-2019, as appropriate);
  • possess an NIV - regardless of whether the NIV is expired or unexpired and regardless of whether the NIV was issued for the visa category that the person now holds; and
  • have a valid passport.

A nonimmigrant meeting these standards normally will be allowed to re-enter the United States as though he or she had never left the U.S. If the person seeking re-entry has had his or her status changed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (such as from F-1 to H-1B, or B-2 to F-1), then the person will be readmitted in the changed classification as if the person had been issued an NIV in the proper category.

Important Considerations

There are several considerations that must be kept in mind before using this procedure. They include:

  • The person applying for re-entry must present an original I-94. This means that you cannot allow the airline (or anyone else) to remove your I-94 when you depart from the U.S.
  • The I-94 presented must be valid. This means that it cannot have expired or be for an incorrect nonimmigrant status.
  • The person seeking re-entry must not have violated his or her status when previously in the U.S. If a person entered the U.S. as an H-1B, stopped working for the sponsoring employer (and as a result failed to maintain legal H-1B immigration status), the person would be subject to being refused entry.
Important Note About U.S. Visa Application In Canada Or Mexico

If you make an application for a new NIV at a US consulate in Canada or Mexico, you will be ineligible to use "automatic visa revalidation".

Important Note About State Sponsors Of Terrorism.

"Automatic revalidation" is not available to individuals from a country which the U.S. Department of State has declared a state that sponsors terrorism. The countries are: Cuba; Iran; North Korea; Sudan; and Syria. Please see http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm

Please consider also, that even if you may be eligible for "automatic revalidation", you may still be subject to significant delays at the Canadian (or Mexican) border to the U.S. due to the security checks or clearances that apply to all persons seeking to enter the U.S.

 

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