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Automatic Extension of Visas - Travel to Canada, Mexico, and "Adjacent Islands"

International Scholars > Automatic Extension of Visas

Under certain circumstances, non-immigrants with expired visas are allowed to return to the United States in the same visa status in which they departed, to continue their previously approved activities, without having to obtain a new entry visa stamp. This is known as "automatic extension of visa validity" or "automatic revalidation."

The provision for automatic extension of visa validity for individuals in F and J visa status applies to Canada, Mexico, and "adjacent islands." "Adjacent islands" are in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea and vicinity, and include the British Virgin Islands, French West Indies, Netherlands Antilles, Windward and Leeward Islands, and other possessions and territories of Britain, France, and the Netherlands. Cuba is NOT included. A partial listing of adjacent islands is below. For verification of which islands constitute "adjacent islands," consult the appropriate consulates or the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101 (b)(5).

*These islands have a United States Embassy or Consulate.
Anguilla Dominican Republic* Nevis
Antigua and Barbuda Grenada* Saba
Aruba Grenadines Saint Barthelemy
Bahamas (Nassau)* Guadeloupe Saint Eustastius
Barbados* Haiti* Saint Kitts
Bermuda* Jamaica* Saint Lucia
Bonaire Les Saintes Saint Marten
British Virgin Islands Marie-Galante Saint Pierre
Curacao* Martinique Saint Vincent
Cayman Islands Miquelon Trinidad and Tobago*
Dominica Montserrat Turks & Caicos Islands

Please be aware, you may still require a visa to enter Canada, Mexico, or any of the "adjacent islands." Visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air may also need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

You may only qualify for automatic extension of visa validity if you have the visa stamp and a valid passport in your possession at the point of entry. If you also have a paper Form I-94, in order to qualify for automatic extension of visa validity you must retain the same Form I-94 when leaving and reentering the United States.

You will NOT be able to use automatic extension of visa validity if one of the following conditions applies:

  • If the visa stamp in your passport has been canceled, invalidated, voided, or contains specific language limiting the use of the visa
  • If you have applied for a new entry visa stamp during the visit, and are waiting for a response from the United States Embassy or Consulate in regards to your visa application
  • If you have applied for a new entry visa stamp during the visit, and your application has been denied
  • If you are a citizen or legal permanent resident of, or were born in Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Sudan, as designated by the U.S. Department of State.
  • If your passport is issued by a country with which the United States has no diplomatic relations
  • If you are out of status in the United States

If you are a citizen of Mexico or adjacent islands and plan to use automatic extension of visa validity when visiting your home country, please consult with an ISchO advisor before travel.

Please be aware that other individuals may encounter difficulty when attempting to reenter the United States using automatic extension of visa validity. As always, please consult with a staff member in the International Scholars Office prior to departing the United States.

Please see the chart below for rules specifically pertaining to individuals in J, H, and F visa status. Note that automatic extension for individuals in H-1B and H-4 status applies only to Canada and Mexico.

The following is adapted from NAFSA Adviser's Manual.

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Automatic Visa Extension for J-1 (or J-2) Visa Holders

A J-1 visa stamp may be considered to be automatically extended upon application for readmission to the United States (therefore, your visa stamp does not need to have an expiration date that is in the future), provided that you:

  • are applying for readmission to the United States after a temporary absence of not more than 30 days, during which time you have been "solely in contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) or adjacent islands other than Cuba;"
  • have maintained lawful J-1 status and intend to continue doing so;
  • present a current, unexpired Form DS-2019 that has been properly endorsed by the Responsible Officer for travel;
  • present a valid passport (unless exempt from passport requirements);
  • if applicable, present your most recent paper Form I-94, reflecting J-1 status and marked by CBP for D/S;
  • do not require a waiver of inadmissibility under Section 212(d)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; and
  • apply for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission or extension of stay.

Furthermore, if you entered the United States in a classification other than J-1 exchange visitor but your status was subsequently changed to J-1 exchange visitor, you may be considered to have your previous visa automatically extended and converted to an exchange visitor visa if you meet the criteria above. Thus, under these circumstances, if your J-1 visa has expired, it is not necessary to apply for a new or extended visa at a consular post outside of the United States.

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Automatic Visa Extension for H-1B (or H-4) Visa Holders

An H-1B visa stamp may be considered to be automatically extended upon application for readmission to the United States (therefore, your visa stamp does not need to have an expiration date that is in the future), if you are returning from Canada or Mexico and are returning to the United States to resume H-1B status, provided that you:

  • are applying for readmission to the United States after a temporary absence of not more than 30 days in Canada or Mexico;
  • have maintained lawful H-1B status and intend to continue doing so;
  • present a current, unexpired Form I-797;
  • present a valid passport (unless exempt from passport requirements);
  • if applicable, present your most recent paper Form I-94 reflecting H-1B status;
  • do not require a waiver of inadmissibility under Section 212(d)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; and
  • apply for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission or extension of stay.

NOTE: Does not apply for travel to adjacent islands.

Furthermore, if you entered the United States in a classification other than H-1B but your status was subsequently changed to H-1B, you may be considered to have your previous visa automatically extended and converted to an H-1B visa if you meet the criteria above. Thus, under these circumstances, if your H-1B visa stamp has expired, it is not necessary to apply for a new or extended visa at a consular post outside of the United States.

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Automatic Visa Extension for F-1 (or F-2) Visa Holders

A F-1 visa stamp may be considered to be automatically extended up application for readmission to the United States (therefore, your visa stamp does not need to have an expiration date that is in the future), provided that you:

  • are applying for readmission to the United States after a temporary absence of not more than 30 days, during which time you have been "solely in contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) or adjacent islands other than Cuba;"
  • have maintained lawful F-1 status and intend to continue doing so;
  • present a current, unexpired Form I-20 that has been properly endorsed by the DSO for travel;
  • present a valid passport (unless exempt from passport requirements);
  • if applicable, present your most recent paper Form I-94 reflecting F-1 status and marked by CBP for D/S; and
  • apply for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission or extension of stay.

Furthermore, If you entered the United States in a classification other than F-1student, but your status was subsequently changed to F-1 student, you may be considered to have your previous visa automatically extended and converted to an F-1 student visa if you meet the criteria stated above. Thus, under these circumstances, if your F-1 visa has expired, it is not necessary to apply for a new or extended visa at a consular post outside of the United States.

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Last Updated: January 2020

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