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Travel/Automatic Visa Revalidation

  • 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 must apply:
    •  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.
  • Click here to access a Customs and Border Protection bulletin on Automatic Visa Revalidation.  If you wish, print this page to carry with you when you depart to provide you some additional reassurance as to this policy.
  • Further references:  

Can I go to (country name)? 

  • 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.