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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.

Nonimmigrant visa holders are allowed to re-enter the United States with an expired visa stamp after a short trip to Canada or Mexico, as long as they meet all eligibility requirements. F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors may also have additional eligibility for automatic revalidation after a short trip to certain island nations adjacent to the United States.

Eligibility for Automatic Revalidation

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

  1. Travel is limited to eligible countries
  2. The trip is shorter than 30 days

Further eligibility stipulations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Citizens of countries determined to be state sponsors of terrorism by the Secretary of State are not eligible for this program.
  • Citizens of eligible countries* may be able to use the revalidation program even after a short trip home, after the initial visa stamp has expired.
  • Nonimmigrants who have been approved for a Change of Status within the United States may use automatic revalidation, but must be able to show their approval notice and the expired visa for their previous category.
  • Any visa application to a US Consulate or Embassy while abroad voids eligibility. This means that nonimmigrants cannot apply to renew their visa in one of these countries and use the Automatic Revalidation program to return to the United States in case their visa renewal application is denied.
  • If the trip includes travel to countries other than those addressed under Automatic Revalidation or exceeds a total of 30 days, nonimmigrants must make arrangements for visa renewal before returning to the United States.

Please refer to the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection websites for the most up-to-date information on determining eligibility.

*Contiguous Territories and Adjacent Islands: Canada; Mexico; The Bahamas; Barbados; Bermuda; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Haiti; Jamaica; Martinique; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Trinidad and Tobago; 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.

Automatic Revalidation Travel Procedures

To take advantage of this automatic revalidation, a nonimmigrant in possession of a valid paper Form I-94 card should NOT surrender that I-94 card when leaving the United States for a trip to one of the eligible countries. Nonimmigrants with electronic I-94 records should travel with a printed copy that shows their valid I-94 number.

All travelers must also carry their immigration documents. If traveling by car, nonimmigrants may need to tell the US border patrol officers upon departure that they have a short trip planned and intend to return using Automatic Revalidation. When returning to the United States, nonimmigrants should be re-admitted using the same Form I-94 (either paper or electronic).

Before departing the United States to visit an eligible country under the Automatic Revalidation program, nonimmigrants should ensure they have obtained necessary visas to visit the countries on their planned itineraries.

Questions About Your Eligibility?

Contact us prior to traveling outside of the United States if you have an expired visa and are unsure of your eligibility for Automatic Revalidation.