Automatic revalidation H1B visa is an official process for people with expired visa stamp in their passport, to help re-enter USA without getting a new visa stamp.
This CBP rule is also known as contiguous territory rule.
This article will discuss:
Automatic Revalidation H1B Canada, Mexico to enter USA?
Non-immigrants including valid H1B visa holders and students in F status, who went outside U.S. for travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent islands, except Cuba (for F and J non-immigrants) for 30 days or less are eligible for automatic re-validation.
You should NOT visit any countries other than Mexico or Canada in that period in this visit.
Travelers who are on a F visa or J visa status are allowed to visit adjacent islands to the U.S. i.e. the Caribbean but not H1B, H4, L or other such visas.
Documents Required for AVR
#1 Approved Visa or Petition i797
Example, if you are on H1B, then carry your approved original i797A notice of approval.
#2 Passport with Expired Visa Stamp (foil)
You should carry your old or expired passport if the US visa stamp is pasted in old passport.
#3 Un-expired i94
You will have this new i94 attached to your i797A notice of approval after you got an approved extension for your visa type.
Example: H1B, H4 or L visa holders get their new i94 after extension approval in i797A.
There is no special process to apply for automatic visa revalidation.
You do not need to do anything special to use this facility or inform anyone before your intended travel on cruise or land or air.
Just walk in to the immigration desk as usual at the port of entry in USA, when you return and present your documents. The experience is same as you would enter US with a valid visa stamp.
A valid i94 is required for using AVR at US port of entry.
The i94 should not have expired.
The expired visa stamp in your passport is fine.
Once you use the Automatic Visa Revalidation process, the old expired visa in considered valid only up-to that date and day.
It cannot be used for future re-entry from any other country.
Off-course, the same revalidation process can be used again if you are eligible.
No new visa is issued and the visa stamp in your passport still shows the same expiry date after AVR process.
Automatic re-validation is allowed in case you changed your status after entering the US territory on some other visa.
For example, if you entered US on H1B visa and later changed status to H4 within USA, you are still eligible to use visa revalidation at port of entry.
Once you use AVR service, the changed visa status is also revalidated.
You cannot enter USA using AVR process if your visa application is pending with US embassy in Canada or Mexico.
Citizens of countries who are designated as a ‘State sponsor of terrorism‘ by US government are not eligible to visa re-validation.
H1B visa holders cannot use use AVR to enter US if they are going to Bahamas for cruise. H1B can only use AVR with Mexico or Canada travel.
You cannot use AVR to return to US if you get form 221g or DS5535 admin processing in Mexico.
As per reports, some US Mexico border locations like Nogales, Laredo etc have allowed some H1B people to return to use after getting form 221g admin processing.
As per our information, this is not allowed and it may pose future issues at the time of your green card processing even if the CBP officer allowed you.
You cannot use AVR process for i94 extension after passport renewal.
Going for Visa Stamping to Canada or Mexico?
Automatic revalidation is NOT available if you are going to visa stamping in Canada or Mexico. You have to have the new visa stamp to re-enter USA in this case.
The rule is that there should be NO pending visa application at the time of re-entry to make use of ‘Automatic Revalidation’ process.
H1B worker with an expired visa visits US embassy in Canada or Mexico to get new H1B visa stamp.
If the new visa stamp is issued in your passport, you can re-enter USA using the new visa.
If, the visa stamp is denied or is pending with US embassy, you cannot use automatic visa revalidation rule.
Adjacent Islands eligible for Visa revalidation
The adjacent islands are:
- 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