Returning to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico

Traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than thirty days.

Automatic Re-validation

If you have an expired F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport, a valid I-94 card stating your current status, and I-20 or DS-2019 signed on page 3 within the past 12 months, your visa will be considered automatically revalidated when you re-enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico as long as ALL of the following are true:


  • you have been only in Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days
  • you have with you a current I-94 card stating your valid status
  • you do have an expired F-1 or J-1 visa in your passport
  • you do not apply for a U.S. visa while in Canada or Mexico
  • you are not from one of the countries currently considered by the U.S. federal government to be state sponsors of terrorism (as of 12/15/2005 this includes Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba)

I-94 Card

For automatic revalidation to apply to you, you must be careful to keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. When you re-enter the U.S., present your I-94 card along with your valid passport, expired visa and your valid immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019).

Changes of Status and Automatic Revalidation

The automatic revalidation will also work for someone who originally entered the U.S. in one non-immigrant status (such as F1) and has since changed to another non-immigrant status (such as H1B). The expired F1 visa will be considered to be revalidated and changed to H1B for the entry from Canada or Mexico. Those in H1B status should also carry the original I-797 approval notice while traveling which you can borrow from the ISSO.

Adjacent Islands excluding Cuba

For those in F or J status, the automatic revalidation also works for visits of less than 30 days to the adjacent islands** excluding Cuba.

**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 Sea.

Check with the ISSO

If you plan to re-enter the U.S. using automatic revalidation, it is a good idea to stop by the ISSO before you go to be sure your documents are in order.