Automatic Visa Revalidation: Re-entering the United States with a Valid I-94 Form and Expired Visa

Visa_pageA nonimmigrant alien who has previously presented a visa for admission to the United States may sometimes be readmitted (a) in the same nonimmigrant classification as shown on an expired visa, or, (b) in a different nonimmigrant classification than shown on an expired or valid visa if a change of status occurred while the individual was in the United States. The nonimmigrant alien’s absence from the United States must be limited to 30 days or less, and the individual’s travel must be limited to certain geographic locations.

Under the automatic revalidation provision of immigration law, certain temporary visitors holding expired nonimmigrant visas who seek to return to the U.S. may be admitted at a U.S. port-of-entry by CBP, if they meet certain requirements, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Nonimmigrants who departed the United States for brief travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island (for F and J nonimmigrants) for thirty days or less;
  • Nonimmigrants with a valid (unexpired) admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, endorsed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Many nonimmigrants will need to reapply and be reissued visas to reenter the U.S. when their existing visas have expired, even if they are in possession of valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94, because automatic revalidation applies to limited categories of travelers. The following temporary visitors whose nonimmigrant visas have expired, but who have a valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94, must reapply for and be issued nonimmigrant visas prior to their reentry to the United States, if one or more of the following situations exists (this is not a complete listing):

The nonimmigrant traveler with an expired nonimmigrant visa (but valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94):

  • Applied for a new visa which has not yet been issued;
  • Applied for a new visa and was denied;
  • Has been outside of the United States for more than thirty days;
  • Has traveled to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island which is not included in the automatic revalidation provisions;
  • Is a national of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Iran, Syria, and Sudan;
  • Is in possession of an F student visa or J exchange visitor visa and has traveled to Cuba;
  • Is in possession of an M student visa and has traveled to a location outside the United States, other than Canada and Mexico.
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