What is ‘Automatic Visa Revalidation?’

A 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.

Admission under this procedure is called “automatic visa revalidation.” Automatic visa revalidation is applied differently depending on the individual’s nonimmigrant visa classification.

Most nonimmigrants may rely on automatic visa revalidation to apply for readmission after travel to a “contiguous territory” (Canada or Mexico). Nonimmigrants in the F or J classification may rely on automatic visa revalidation to apply for readmission after travel to a “contiguous territory” or “adjacent islands other than Cuba.” At a minimum, in order to be eligible for this benefit, the nonimmigrant alien must present a valid passport, a valid Form 1-94 (Departure Record or Arrival-Departure Record), and either (a) an expired nonimmigrant visa in any classification or (b) a current, valid nonimmigrant visa in any classification.

Canadian Citizens and Presentation of a Passport Containing a Visa

 Canadian citizens must have been admitted at least once after presentation of a visa to qualify for automatic visa revalidation. Canadian citizens are exempt from the requirement to present a visa for admission to the United States in nonimmigrant classifications other than E or K. If a Canadian citizen is admitted in a nonimmigrant classification that does not require a visa and then changes to E-1 or E-2 while in the United States, the Canadian citizen may not rely on automatic visa revalidation. Instead, this individual must apply for an E visa before readmission. The Canadian citizen must hold either a valid or an expired visa in the passport at the time of the application for admission in E-1 or E-2 status.

Example #1: A Canadian citizen is admitted to the United States in TN status (a visa exempt classification). The Canadian citizen changes status to E-2 during the period of temporary stay within the United States. This person travels to Canada for a week, does not apply for an E-2 visa, and then asks to return to the United States in E-2 status. The Canadian citizen presents a valid passport and a valid 1-94 card, but no visa.

The Canadian citizen is not currently admissible under automatic visa revalidation and must apply for an E-2 visa prior to readmission to the United States.

Example #2: A Canadian citizen is admitted to the United States in TN status (a visa exempt classification). The Canadian citizen changes status to E-2 during the period of temporary stay within the United States. This individual travels to Canada, applies for and is issued an E-2 visa, and presents the visa for admission to the United States in E-2 status. Through the passage of time, the E-2 visa expires even though E-2 status has been extended as reflected on a Form 1-94. The Canadian citizen then travels to Canada, does not apply for a new E-2 visa, and applies for readmission to the United States in E-2 status. The Canadian citizen presents a valid passport, a valid, unexpired Form 1-94, and the expired E-2 visa.

The Canadian citizen is admissible under automatic visa revalidation.

Exceptions

Visa Waiver Program

Persons admitted to the United States may be readmitted after a departure to a foreign contiguous territory or adjacent island for the balance of the original Visa Waiver Program admission if otherwise admissible and meeting all conditions of 8 C.F.R. Part 217, with the exception of arrival on a signatory carrier.

Nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Cuba

Nationals of the countries listed above are not eligible for automatic revalidation of a visa. Such individuals must present a valid visa when making an application for any admission to the United States and may be admitted only in the nonimmigrant classification shown on the visa.