As you know, you must get your I-20 signed for travel before departing for a temporary trip outside the U.S in order to facilitate your re-entry
to the U.S. And generally, your passport and student visa must also still be valid.
But there is an exception to the valid visa rule.
Exception: Most* F-1 students can go to Mexico, Canada or an adjacent island (except Cuba)
for less than 30 days and return to the U.S. with an expired visa. This exception
is called Automatic Visa Revalidation. This exception also applies to those who have
been approved for a Change of Status to F-1 status while in the US and subsequently
travel to one of these locations.
To qualify for re-entry to the U.S. using Automatic Visa Revalidation the following
You have only been in Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island (except Cuba) for less
than 30 days
You have a current I-94 stating your valid status**
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.
*Automatic Revalidation is not available to citizens of Iran, Sudan, Syria or Cuba.
**If your most recent arrival into the U.S. was before April 30, 2013, you should
have a card style I-94 stapled in your passport. Do not surrender this document
upon departure. If your most recent arrival was after April 30, 2013, you will not
have been given a card style I-94. For reassurance, we suggest you carry a printout
of your I-94 from the CBP website.
**If you entered the U.S. with other than an F-1 visa and have been granted a change
of status to F-1 status, the bottom of your Approval Notice of Action from USCIS is
your new I-94. Detach the entire I-94 and place it in your passport; do not surrender
it upon departure.
Students frequently ask if they are able to go to specific countries. This International
Student Services Office cannot advise as to whether any particular student can enter
another country. Our responsibility is to advise you as to whether you can enter
the the US. To determine if you need to apply for a visa to enter another country,
you will have to go to the website of the visa office for that country.