Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Contiguous Islands

(Excluding Cuba)

  • I-20 or DS-2019 must be endorsed for reentry to the U.S.
  • Check with the Mexican, Canadian or island embassy to determine if you will need a visa to enter that country: www.embassy.org
  • If you are planning to apply for a U.S. visa, please check with an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services for the current situation. Conditions change frequently.
  • If you are applying for a new visa stamp and if your current visa has expired, or has no more entries, you take a definite risk. In this case, if the U.S. consulate denies your visa application, you cannot use the automatic revalidation option. You will be stuck in that country, and will need to make plans to travel home from there.
  • If your visa has expired, and if you are NOT applying for a new visa stamp, and you will be in that country for 30 days or less, you may be eligible for the automatic visa revalidation. See the detailed information below.

This means that you can reenter the U.S. with your expired visa stamp.

Automatic Extension of Visa
F and J visa holders who travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island (other than Cuba) for 30 days or less with an expired visa stamp, may be eligible for an automatic extension of their visa upon reentry to the U.S. The visa will be extended to the date of application for readmission to the U.S.   This provision, contained in 22 CFR 41.112(d), does not apply to those whose visas have been canceled or those who do not have a visa stamp.

Travelers from the following countries are not eligible for automatic extension: Syria, Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

A student or scholar who has an expired visa stamp and who has applied for a visa stamp in Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island, and has been denied, is not eligible for automatic extension. A student who has been visiting, and has not applied for a visa stamp is eligible.
The student or scholar must have maintained valid status, and must intend to continue maintaining valid status.

Those who have changed their visa status in the U.S. are eligible for automatic extension if they have their previous visa stamp, plus the stamped I-20 or DS-2019, and the I-94 card or I-797A documenting that the change of status was approved by USCIS.

To qualify for Automatic Extension of the Validity of the visa, F and J visa holders should be in possession of the following:

  • A visa to enter the adjacent country, if needed.
  • An unexpired passport
  • An expired visa stamp (If the expired visa stamp is in an expired passport, that passport and visa stamp must also be presented upon reentry to the U.S.)
  • An I-20 (for F status) or DS-2019 (for J status) endorsed for travel
  • I-94 marked D/S (Do not give up your I-94 when you leave the U.S.!)
  • Evidence of an USCIS approved change of status, (e.g. I-797A and/or I-94 card), and I-20 or DS-2019 stamped by USCIS only for those who have had a change of status within the U.S.

PLEASE NOTE: With Automatic Revalidation, your I-94 card should NOT be taken from you upon exiting the U.S.