Automatic ReValidation H1B Canada Mexico

Automatic revalidation H1B Canada or Mexico cruise or land or air allowed with un-expired i94 for short travel of 30 days or less. H1B to H4 COS allowed.

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta          Updated  1 Nov, 19


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.

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).

Related: i94 Correction after Passport expiry and renewal in US

Documents required for Automatic Revalidation

  1. Approved Visa/PetitionExample, if you are on H1B, then carry your approved original i797A notice of approval.
  2. Passport with expired visa stamp (foil)
  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.

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.

Related: How to get FBI Police Clearance Certificate for Visa and Immigration

Is valid i94 required for revalidation at US port of entry

Yes, the i94 should have NOT expired. The visa stamp in your passport is okay to have expired.

Is the expired Visa in passport automatically renewed for future travel?

NO, Once you use the ‘Automatic 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 can be used again based on the conditions mentioned above.

No new visa is issued and the stamp in your passport still shows the same expiry date.

Entered US on H1B, changed status to H4

Automatic re-validation is also 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 this service, the changed visa status is also revalidated.

Going for Visa Stamping to Canada or Mexico?

Automatic revalidation is NOT available if you are going to apply for new visa stamp 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.

Related: i140 H1B extension or transfer after 6 years

Any Country who’s citizen is not eligible for Visa Revalidation?

Yes, citizens of countries who is designated as a ‘State sponsor of terrorism‘ by US government are not eligible to visa re-validation.

Adjacent Islands eligible for Visa revalidation

The adjacent islands are:

  1. Saint Pierre
  2. Miquelon
  3. The Dominican Republic
  4. Haiti
  5. Bermuda
  6. The Bahamas
  7. Barbados
  8. Jamaica
  9. The Windward and Leeward Islands
  10. Trinidad
  11. Martinique
  12. Other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea

Canada USA

   116 Useful Questions & Answers from comments

  1. Kumar rohan
    Kumar rohan 1 Nov, 19 at 10:45 am

    Hi, Me and my wife are on H1 and H4 visa respectively. I was working with Company A and i797 and visa was approved till May 2020. The visa on the passport has the old company’s name mentioned in it. Now i have switched employers and i797 is approved till 2022 with the new employer, but we are yet to get the stamping done. I94 validity on DHS website shows may 2020. Same with my wife. We were thinking to go to Canada to get the PR landing done by road. Will we be illegible to get the automatic re validation done upon return to US on the same day?

  2. G Intriago
    G Intriago 24 Oct, 19 at 12:06 am

    Hi Anil!

    I have a question. I have an expired visa and my passport expires on June 2020. I came to the US on Aug 2014, went to college for 4 years until 2018, completed my opt until June 2019, and now Im in another school program.

    I want to travel to Mexico for 4 days in Jan 2020. Would I be able to come back with the automatic visa revalidation? Would it matter to have my expired visa on a soon to expire passport? I will be getting a new passport in the US before the trip.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 24 Oct, 19 at 12:06 am

      You can use AVR as long as you have the documents mentioned above. Passport renewal does not affect it.

  3. Kim gonzales
    Kim gonzales 24 Oct, 19 at 12:06 am

    Hi Anil,

    I have valid I 797 and I-94 attached to it but my company name got changed and the I -797 is with old company name. Can i go to maxico to use AVR option with this I797 ?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 24 Oct, 19 at 12:06 am

      Has your company applied for H1B amendment after company name change?
      Why do you need to use AVR here? What is the real reason for your travel to Mexico?

  4. priya
    priya 29 Jul, 19 at 10:26 am

    My i94 expires by the end of this month. My H4 extension and h4 EAD is still pending.

    1) Can I travel to Canada before my i94 expires, will I be permitted back into the US on my current H4 visa?
    2) Would this cause my H4 extension and H4 EAD (that’s currently in processing) to be abandoned?

  5. TJ agarwal
    TJ agarwal 22 Jul, 19 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Anil,
    Thanks for the detailed post. I wanted to clarify a couple of things and would really appreciate your input. I was on J1 visa and now transferred to H1b. I don’t have any H1b stamp in my passport yet. You said in your post that AVR cannot be used if there is no prior US visa in the passport. Do you mean a prior visa in the same category (H1b) or any US visa? I have prior J1, F1 and valid tourist visa but no H1b stamp.

    Also, I am planning to visit Mexico in October of this year when I will have to use AVR. Subsequently I will visit India in November when I plan to get my initial H1b stamp. Since I have filled out DS -160, paid visa fees and scheduled appointment with US consulate in India, does it mean I cannot use AVR? Not sure if this will count as visa application pending even though in another country on a different date.

    I would really appreciate your input.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 22 Jul, 19 at 5:25 pm

      You should be able to use AVR process on your return from Mexico.

      • TJ agarwal
        TJ agarwal 22 Jul, 19 at 7:01 pm

        Thanks. Would it be considered pending visa application for AVR if I have scheduled appointment at US consulate in India (1 month after my visit to Mexico)?
        I assume no prior H1b stamp in my passport shouldn’t be an issue for AVR.

    NITESH JAIN 20 Jul, 19 at 11:40 pm

    Hi Anil,
    I am on F1 student visa(expired last month). I booked an appointment for visa renewal in Canada(DS-160 done, 160$ paid, got the date of appointment). I have to travel to Canada for my PR initiation. Will AVR work for me if I plan to return before my visa appointment?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 21 Jul, 19 at 6:27 pm

      You should not have a pending visa application with US embassy at the time of using AVR as explained in the article above.

        NITESH JAIN 22 Jul, 19 at 6:44 pm

        Hi Anil, thanks for the reply. I see the post from TJ agarwal(above) in which you have replied that AVR will work for the person. I have the same situation. Can you please let me know if I have an interview scheduled, does it qualify as VISA application pending status? If yes, what happens if I cancel my appointment. I know DS 160 stays valid for 1 year after 1st cancellation and if i re-cancel my appointment, ds 160 stays valid for 30 more days. please advise.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 22 Jul, 19 at 8:01 pm

          If you do not appear for interview, then it should not be counted as pending application.

  7. Tim Apple
    Tim Apple 10 Jul, 19 at 7:35 pm

    Hi Anil – would really appreciate your help.
    My F-1 expired in May. Now I’m in Canada( I have Canadian visa), and decided to apply for an F-1 visa because my job might require me to travel internationally (I have OPT, EAD and job offer-haven’t started working yet). I’ve filled DS-160, paid a fee and scheduled an interview at US Consulate in Canada. Now I realized that if my visa is denied, I won’t be able to return to the US on the basis of visa revalidation.
    (1) Will I be allowed to the US via AVR if I cancel or reschedule my appointment (stayed in Canada for 29 days)?
    (2)And can I go to the US, return back to Canada in couple days, spend 30 more days in Canada and then come back to the US?
    Thanks so much!!!

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 10 Jul, 19 at 8:02 pm

      I am not sure if the pending interview is counted as pending visa application or not. Ideally, it should not.

      You can use AVR on 30th day and use it again later.

  8. AD
    AD 9 Jul, 19 at 11:17 am

    Hi Anil, another question since the case is a bit more convoluted.
    I plan to book an Appointment for H4 in India while in Canada.
    I wish to re-enter on my currently valid H1B I94 now travel back to India & then get the above mentioned H4 stamp.
    Would taking this H4 appointment in India for a new H4 visa be an hinderance to the re-entry process using AVR.

    Thanks for your diligence!

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 9 Jul, 19 at 12:23 pm

      I am not sure if it will be counted as pending visa or not. I suggest to keep it straight and book the appointment when you are back in US.

  9. AD
    AD 8 Jul, 19 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Anil,
    Have you paid the visa stamping fees? >>>NO.
    Why have you filled DS160 is you do not plan to apply for H4 visa in Canada?
    >>> Earlier I was planning to, but my situation changed.

    Visa and Pending petition are two different things.
    >> So for AVR case what is it?

    For re-entering US with AVR process, you should have at-least one US visa stamp in past.
    >>> Yes I do have 2 past but expired Visa stamps for H1B

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 8 Jul, 19 at 7:10 pm

      If you have not paid the visa stamping fees, then you are fine.
      Please read the above article for AVR process and requirements.

  10. AD
    AD 8 Jul, 19 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Anil,
    Similar to Ruchi’s case below. I have a valid I-94 with my current employer through Sep 19. No Visa stamp.
    I plan to travel to Canada on a tourist visa this coming weekend for a 2-week trip. In the meanwhile another employer would be filing for a transfer when i’m still going to be in canada. I plan on using the ARV process to enter the US again. Do you think that having a “pending case of transfer” would disqualify me from using the ARV. I’m asking since the CBP details regarding says ‘The person does not have a pending or rejected application for a new visa’. So from what i’m reading this as is a Visa application with DS-160 submitted. NOT a pending petition. I’m not to clear on the semantics here, so hoping for a clarification. Also is a submitted DS-160 without a stamping date considered a pending visa situation. Asking since I have a submitted H4 ds-160 for Canada with no stamping date registered for. Thanks!

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 8 Jul, 19 at 12:56 pm

      Have you paid the visa stamping fees? Why have you filled DS160 is you do not plan to apply for H4 visa in Canada?

      Visa and Pending petition are two different things.

      For re-entering US with AVR process, you should have at-least one US visa stamp in past.

  11. ruchi
    ruchi 3 Jul, 19 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Anil,

    I have i797 from current employer valid till mar 2020 , expired h1b stamped visa from previous employer & valid canada tourist visa. My h1b transfer to a new employer is in process, not yet approved. Can I still use AVR for travel from seattle to vancouver by road without hassles? I am travelling for pleasure for 3-4 days. What documents I need to carry? Anything I need to careful about? Thank you for your help


    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 3 Jul, 19 at 2:39 pm

      You should be able to use AVR process to
      Re-enter US.
      But chances are high that your H1B transfer will be approved with consular processing as you are going out of US while transfer is pending.

      • ruchi
        ruchi 3 Jul, 19 at 4:26 pm

        Thanks Anil.
        So , if I travel to canada while h1b transfer is in process that may lead to h1 transfer approval with consular processing? Why would that happen? my current i94 is valid till mar 2020. h1b transfer is still pending rfe response & may take much longer to complete. But I do not intend to go thru consular processing , would rather avoid it.


        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 3 Jul, 19 at 6:32 pm

          Once you leave US, your existing i94 is automatically invalidated. You get a new i94 when you re-enter US.
          In case of Canada though, they do not issue a new i94 if you come back within 30 days.
          But, you never know how USCIS will see this as. That is why I said that your transfer may be approved without a new i94.

          • Ruchi
            Ruchi 5 Jul, 19 at 11:39 am

            understood. Thanks for letting me know about this. I have traveled earlier multiple times by road from seattle to canada but with stamped visa. They never issued a new i94 so far. But I would probably think a bit this time because of h1 transfer & expired visa. Thanks again.


  12. Chandini
    Chandini 27 Jun, 19 at 9:29 am

    Hi. I have H1b visa stamped until Aug 31st 2019 with my current company. I got a new job and they applied for transfer, I got it approved till May 2022. Can I travel to Canada in October after joining new company with expired visa stamp on my passport. Thank you

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 27 Jun, 19 at 9:37 am

      Yes, you can travel.

  13. khasim umer
    khasim umer 20 Jun, 19 at 4:58 pm

    Can I travel back from Canada on AVR with copies of my approved H1 visa. I seem to have misplaced my original I-797. Thank you

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 20 Jun, 19 at 4:58 pm

      Is your H1B visa still valid or has expired?

      • khasim umer
        khasim umer 20 Jun, 19 at 4:58 pm

        The stamping is expired in my passport , but the i-94 on the copy of I 797 is valid till next year.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 20 Jun, 19 at 6:20 pm

          You need the original i797 to show at US Canada border. If you don’t have it, they can deny you entry.

          • khasim umer
            khasim umer 20 Jun, 19 at 6:27 pm

            Thank you so much for the response, Anil. Is there a way to obtain additional original copy of I-797?

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 21 Jun, 19 at 12:51 am

              You can file a USCIS FOIA request.

              • khasim umer
                khasim umer 21 Jun, 19 at 12:51 am

                I will look into it. Sincerely appreciate your help in this matter !

  14. Elizabeth HONG
    Elizabeth HONG 26 May, 19 at 1:56 pm

    Hi, I’m Chinese citizen. I have holds H1B but my visa stamp just expired. 1.Could I go on a cruise which go to Bahama? 2. What about other Caribbean islands? 3. Do I need a Mexico visa for cruise to Mexico?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 26 May, 19 at 9:14 pm

      Please read the article above. it has answers to your questions.

  15. Pranav Kulkarni
    Pranav Kulkarni 13 May, 19 at 11:13 am

    UPDATE : Did my landing thru the Thousand Islands Bridge(Landsdowne) on a Sunday morning .Took a rental car. Carried all the suggested documents, but I was not asked to show a single one. I was asked to write the address where they could mail PR card. *( not sure if I need to submit any application for it… kindly advise if any of you know about it )* . Then I was sent to the Customs window where I submitted Good accompanying and Goods to Follow lists. I was given a receipt and copy of GTF list as proof.
    I was told I will need PR confirmation letter to travel into Canada later ( Only if travelling by road, in my own car,not rental).
    Went to Kingston for lunch and sight seeing.
    Returned thru the same bridge by 6 PM and used AVR option (uneventful) .

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 13 May, 19 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience. We appreciate it.

    • Prashanth Ponnadi
      Prashanth Ponnadi 31 May, 19 at 12:21 pm

      Hi Pranav, what do you mean by ‘uneventful’? Were you able to use the AVR process with a valid I-797, expired F-1 stamping in the passport and a no H-1B stamping?

  16. Mani
    Mani 10 May, 19 at 5:11 pm

    Hello Sir,

    My wife has Unexpired H4 stamp. She has a changes of status to h1 and has valid I797. I have read that for expired visa, the category of visa doesnt have to be same as that of I797 (H4 and later H1 in our case). Is this also applcable for unexpired visas? Logically it shd be but just trying to understand if there is any fine legal line in between.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 10 May, 19 at 5:29 pm

      As per my information, unexpired visa is not eligible as in your case.

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