Re-entering the U.S. after a Temporary Absence

To re-enter the U.S., you need to make sure you have all the required documents.

Traveling to Canada
Before traveling to Canada, come to the OISS. Also note that you CAN re-enter the U.S. from Canada with an expired U.S. visa stamp if you meet the criteria. See below.

Returning to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico

Traveling to Canada or Mexico for less than thirty days.

Automatic Revalidation

If you have an expired non-immigrant visa stamp in your passport (for example F or J) and you have a valid I-94 card stating your current status, your visa will be considered automatically revalidated for that ONE entry when you re-enter the U.S. from Canada or Mexico as long as ALL of the following are true:


  • you have only been in Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days
  • you have with you a current I-94 card stating your valid status
  • you do have an expired non-immigrant visa in your passport
  • you do not apply for a U.S. visa while in Canada or Mexico
  • you are not from one of the countries currently considered by the U.S. federal government to be state sponsors of terrorism (as of 07/16/2008 this includes Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba)

I-94 Card

For automatic revalidation to apply to you, you must be careful to keep your I-94 card when leaving the U.S. When you re-enter the U.S., present your I-94 card along with your valid passport, expired visa and your valid immigration document (I-20, DS-2019 or I-797 in the case of someone in H1B or O visa status).

Special Registrants

If you are a "special registrant" (you would have been told when you entered the U.S. that you were being "special registered" as part of the "NSEERS" program), then you must leave the U.S. for Canada or Mexico through a designated port of departure. You must register your departure with the port inspectors. At that time, state to the inspectors that you intend to re-enter using automatic revalidation.

Changes of Status and Automatic Revalidation

The automatic revalidation will also work for someone who originally entered the U.S. in one non-immigrant status (such as F1) and has since changed to another non-immigrant status (such as H1B). The expired F1 visa will be considered to be revalidated and changed to H1B for the entry from Canada or Mexico. Those in H1B status should also carry the original I-797 approval notice while traveling which you can borrow from the OISS.

Adjacent Islands excluding Cuba

For those in F or J status (but NOT any other status), the automatic revalidation also works for visits of less than 30 days to the adjacent islands** excluding Cuba.

**Adjacent Islands include: Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

Check with the OISS
If you plan to re-enter the U.S. using automatic revalidation, it is a good idea to contact the OISS before you go to be sure your documents are in order.

Renewing Your Visa Stamp
If you or your dependents need to renew your visas in order to re-enter the U.S., read the information here on what you will need to prepare for the consulate.