Everything You Need to Know About Automatic Revalidation of Nonimmigrant Visas
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is a division within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has the authority over the admission of travelers to the United States. As the United States’ unified border entity, CBP officers may discretionarily allow temporary visitors holding expired nonimmigrant visas to be admitted into the United States at a U.S. port-of-entry if they meet certain requirements.
Who is Eligible for Automatic Revalidation?
Nonimmigrants holding an expired nonimmigrant visa and seeking to reenter the United States may be eligible for automatic revalidation if they meet certain requirements. These requirements include, but are not limited to the following:
- Nonimmigrants who departed the United States to visit Canada or Mexico for 30 days or less;
- Nonimmigrants with a valid (unexpired) admission stamp or paper Form 1-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) endorsed by DHS;
- Nonimmigrants with a valid (unexpired) passport and an expired U.S. visa;
There are slightly different requirements for those with F and J nonimmigrant status. These requirements include, but are not limited to the following:
- F or J nonimmigrants who departed the United States to visit Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island for 30 days or less;
- F or J nonimmigrants with a valid Form I-20 or valid Form DS-2019 respectively with a valid travel signature
It is important to note that automatic revalidation is not the same as applying for a new visa. If you apply for a new nonimmigrant visa, you cannot take advantage of automatic revalidation.
What is Considered an Adjacent Island?
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Section 101(b)(5), adjacent islands include:
- Saint Pierre
- The Dominican Republic
- The Bahamas
- The Windward and Leeward Islands
- Other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea
Who is Not Eligible for Automatic Revalidation?
Several 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 nonimmigrants with an expired nonimmigrant visa (but valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94) are not eligible for automatic revalidation and must reapply and be issued nonimmigrant visas prior to their reentry to the United States, if one or more of the following situations exist (this is not a complete listing):
- Nonimmigrants who applied for a new visa which has not yet been issued;
- Nonimmigrants who applied for a new visa and was denied;
- Nonimmigrants who have been outside of the United States for more than 30 days;
- Nonimmigrants who have traveled to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island which is not included in the automatic revalidation provisions;
- Nonimmigrants who are nationals of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Iran, Syria, and Sudan;
- Nonimmigrants who are in possession of an F student visa or J exchange visitor visa and has traveled to Cuba;
- Nonimmigrants who are in possession of an M student visa and has traveled to a location outside the United States, other than Canada and Mexico.
If you have any other questions about automatic revalidation, we would be more than happy to answer them for you, so contact our office today!