Coming back to the US from Canada
or Mexico with your old visa
"Automatic Visa Revalidation"
This information has been prepared for the general information of clients of The
Law Offices of Jay I. Solomon. It is accurate as of October, 2007.
Always seek legal advice concerning the particulars of your situation.
In certain circumstances, you can come back to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico
using your current I-94 and an expired visa - even if it is in a different
- You are visiting Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days, and
- Have not traveled through any other country, and
- Have not applied for a U.S. visa while in Canada or Mexico, and
- Have a valid visa in your passport - even if it is expired, and even if it
was issued in a different category (so long as it wasn't canceled), and
- Have a valid form I-94 (or an Automated I-94 -
- Are not from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan or Syria, and
- are otherwise admissible to the United States
then you can apply to reenter the U.S. using your passport, your old or
expired visa, and your I-94.
If you entered the U.S. using an F-1 (student) visa and changed your status
to H-1b, you can visit Canada and return to the U.S. as an H-1b, even though you
don't have an H-1b visa - and even if your F-1 visa has expired!
You will still need to satisfy the officer at the border that you are
admissible to the United States - just as you would if you had a visa in your
current status. And it is of course important that you not give up your
form I-94 when you leave the U.S. for Canada or Mexico.
Your I-94 is the original white card you used the last time you entered the
U.S. stamped with an admission date and indicating your status at the time,
together with any extensions/changes which would have been received when you
extended or changed status.
- Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months
- If you have renewed your passport, and your visa is in your old passport,
travel with both
- Make sure you have your I-94 and extension documents
- If you are a student, travel with your I-20 in addition to your I-94
- Make sure you have a visa stamp - and that it has not been canceled. An expired visa is "okay" - a
canceled visa is
- Travel with proof of your current status - for instance, if you are an
H-1b, a letter from your employer and current pay stubs
- Be aware that a visa can be canceled automatically if, for example, you
remained in the U.S. past the date to which you were admitted
- Be aware that you can still be refused admission if there is a question
about your admissibility - for instance if you have been convicted of
a crime or are found to have violated your status.
BE AWARE -not all inspecting officers will be aware of this rule -
particularly at smaller posts. If there is a question when you come
back, ask to see the supervisor.
Why this works
The State Department has a regulation which provides that in the circumstances
(i) The validity of an expired
nonimmigrant visa ... may be considered to be automatically extended to the date
of application for readmission; and
(ii) In cases where the original
nonimmigrant classification of an alien has been changed by DHS to another
nonimmigrant classification, the validity of an expired or unexpired
nonimmigrant visa may be considered to be automatically extended to the date of
application for readmission, and the visa may be converted as necessary to that
A copy of the State Department
regulations and the accompanying NOTE from the State Department Foreign Affairs
Manual is provided in case you want to print it out and bring it with you when
US Customs and Border Protection
Fact Sheet on automatic revalidation, which is posted on their
WARNING: Automatic Visa Revalidation is NOT available if you
have applied for a visa while in Canada or Mexico, and the visa has been
refused. Refer to the list
of conditions above.
Visa Revalidation with Electronic I-94
I-94 Automation - Most I-94 records are
now created and maintained electronically by CBP for those wh arrived by
air or sea. If you were not issued a paper I-94 check
www.cbp.gov/I94 to make sure you have
an electronic record, and print it. If you were issued a paper I-94,
you must use it for visa revalidation. Otherwise, your I-94 will be
verified electronically, and the electronic record wil be used to
revalidate an expired visa - provided you meet all the conditions for visa
Automation & Visa Revalidation