Automatic ReValidation H1B Canada Mexico

Anil Gupta  21 Mar, 19      41  Canada USA Work in USA - H1B, L Visa

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/Petition

    Example, 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.

Automatic ReValidation H1b visa Canada Mexico
Automatic ReValidation H1b visa Canada Mexico

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

   Read all 41 Q & A

  1. Hi
    Come someone please help me out?
    I94 expired on AUG 2017,Moved to another employer filed new petition on Apr 2018(end of 240 day period) and continued working with the same client.
    first H1B is denied on OCT 2018 while my second petition is still under process.Based on my Attorneys advice,We withdrawn the second H1 on Feb 25 2019 after recieving couple of RFE’s on this bridge case.
    I left the country on Mar 7th 2019 to re apply New H1 after 365 days cool off period in 2020 April.
    As per USCIS,My “Unlawful presence” begins on the day of first H1B transfer denial in this case ”
    based on the above statement i had stayed 120 days counting from OCT 31 2018 to Mar 7 2019 which is less than 180 days stay.
    My concern is,Even though the first petition is denied my second H1b is still under process with USCIS. Am i still illegal to stay?Is it going to effect my Future H1? Please answer.


  2. Hi Anil,
    Need few clarification
    1, I resigned the Company A on May 7 and joined with Company B on May 9 but the transfer denied on Aug 31 and Company A send the correspondence to USCIS on May 29
    2, Company A petition & Valid stamped VISA is expiring on Sep 21 and I-94 expire on Oct 1.
    3, H1B transfer initiated by Company C on Sep 26 with the receipt notice I started the work , Current petition receive RFE Jan 19
    4, if Apply new petition with Company D with consular processing
    how it will work and should appear stamping to the near by country.

  3. Hi Anil,

    I entered the US on an F-1 student visa. I now have an approved I-797A. My F-1 visa has expired and I also haven’t left the country after receiving my I-797A and therefore do not have a H1-B stamp on my passport. Can I travel to Canada using this process?

    • Anil Gupta   8 Mar, 19 at 11:24 am

      You should be able to travel to Canada and come back within 30 days using Visa Re-validation process if your H1B i-94 and i797 are valid.

  4. Hi Anil,

    My H-1B got expired in Sept 2017 and I have a valid I-94 and I-797 valid until Nov 2019. We have a family function in Toronto. my question is Can i travel to Canada for 2 weeks and come back with out H-1B stamp.

    • Anil Gupta   6 Mar, 19 at 10:50 pm

      Do you have any previous H1B visa stamp in your passport at all?

      • Yes, I have H-1B visa stamp and which is expired in Sept 2017. Now I have only valid and approved I-797 and I-94 which is valid until Nov 2019.

        • Anil Gupta   6 Mar, 19 at 10:58 pm

          In that case, yes, you can enter USA using visa revalidation process from Canada.

          • So I dont have to go for the H-1B stamping and I will get the new i-94 stamped entry date on my passport?

            • Anil Gupta   6 Mar, 19 at 11:06 pm

              You will not need a new H1B stamp.
              You will also not get a new i94.

              You can simply enter US using your i797 and existing valid i94.

            • Thank you so much Anil for the answer of my questions.

  5. Ramprrasad   27 Feb, 19 at 8:47 pm

    Hi, My wife’s has valid visa until Jan 2021, but her i94 is getting expired next week because of the passport expiry. Now that she has a new passport, we want to change the I94 date. Is it possible to do Automatic Revalidation without having canada visa? I don’t have time to apply and get canada visa now.Pls advice

  6. Sachin Jain   25 Feb, 19 at 10:18 pm

    Hi, I entered US on B1B2 visa in 2013 and changed the status to F1. Currently I have L2 visa with a valid I 797 and I 94. I have not visited any country since I entered USA. Can I visit Mexico or canada under automatic revalidation programme ?


    • You said you have L2 visa? Is it a stamped L2 visa in your passport or you are talking about L2 petition i797 approval?
      Visa and petition are two different things.

      • Sachin Jain   25 Feb, 19 at 10:59 pm

        I have L2 petition approval not the visa. Can I travel ?

        • Anil Gupta   26 Feb, 19 at 8:51 am

          Has your B1/B2 visa stamp expired or is still valid?

          • Sachin Jain   26 Feb, 19 at 9:09 am

            I entered US on April 18th 2013 and my B1/B2 visa stamp expired on October 17th 2013. I have never travelled outside of USA. But my B1/B2 visa is valid till 2021. Please advise.

            • Anil Gupta   26 Feb, 19 at 9:53 am

              You are giving conflicting statements.
              How can your B1/B2 Visa Stamp expire if it is valid till 2021?

              Visa stamp is same as Visa that’s pasted in your passport.

              If you are talking about the rubber stamp that immigration officer stamps on your passport, then it is called i94 and not visa stamp.

              You will not be eligible for visa re validation if your visa stamp is still valid.

  7. Logesh Radhakrishnan   16 Feb, 19 at 10:00 pm

    Hi Anil,

    My wife has an expired H1b Visa, but her I797 petition is approved. She is applying for L1A Blanket and trying to get her visa stamped in Canada. If her L1A blanket is denied, Could she travel back to US on Automatic Visa Revalidation(based on her expired H1B visa and approved petition)?

    • She can use the approved but expired H1B visa stamp and approved H1B i797A petition (with valid and non-expired i94 attached to it) to enter USA from Canada if her L1A blanket visa stamp is denied.

      • Logesh Radhakrishnan   18 Feb, 19 at 12:42 pm

        Thanks for the reply Anil. In the official website, it has been mentioned as below.

        “The following temporary visitors whose nonimmigrant visas have expired, but who have a valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94, must reapply for and be issued nonimmigrant visas prior to their reentry to the United States, if one or more of the following situations exists (this is not a complete listing):

        The nonimmigrant traveler with an expired nonimmigrant visa (but valid admission stamp or paper Form I-94):

        Applied for a new visa which has not yet been issued;
        Applied for a new visa and was denied;”

        Would not L1A denial come under point 2 and we have to re-apply for H1B visa before re-entering. I am just struggling to decipher what they mean.

        • Anil Gupta   18 Feb, 19 at 4:10 pm

          That applies to same visa type that you are trying to enter US with.
          In your case, she cannot use her L1A to enter as it has been denied.
          Also, if she was on L1A in USA and then went to Canada for L1A stamping, she can’t use her L1A after denial.

  8. saritha kontham   13 Feb, 19 at 3:49 pm


    I came to United States in 2009 on F1 visa and got my H1B in 2015. I visited India in 2011 when i was on my F1 and have never visited India since then. I Recently got my H1B extension as well but do not have H1B stamped on my passport. Am planning to visit Alaska by Cruise which departs from Seattle and comes back to Seattle with one of the stops in Vancouver Canada, will i be eligible for Automatic revalidation with my approved I-797 and valid I-94.

    Please suggest


    • Anil Gupta   13 Feb, 19 at 4:46 pm

      I think you can use Automatic visa validation to enter US.

      • No, my passport only have expired F1 visa, i never went back to India for H1 B stamping, I have approved I-797 valid until Dec 2020

        • Anil Gupta   13 Feb, 19 at 6:01 pm

          Yes, i think you can still use automatic validation.
          You can confirm with an attorney if you want.

          • I actually spoke with the US Customs Border Protection officer Seattle and he said i can travel with an expired H1 Visa and i should be coming back to US with no issues, i wanted to check different forums as well to make sure

  9. Nisarg Shah   6 Dec, 18 at 2:08 pm

    My wife’s old H1B visa stamp has expired, but she has an approved extension. Can we take a cruise to Bahamas?

  10. Leonard Arambam   12 Oct, 18 at 2:41 pm

    I want to go on a cruise to the eastern Caribbean islands next year. H1B is approved but not stamped on my passport – do I qualify for automatic revalidation?

    • Anil Gupta   12 Oct, 18 at 4:09 pm

      No, H1B visa is not eligible for automatic re validation and travel to Caribbean islands. Only F and J visa holders are allowed to Caribbean for this scheme.

      • Maritza Scarborough   9 Dec, 18 at 10:40 am

        Hello, Mr. Gupta. My situation is similar: I have H-1B approval with Dallas ISD, but I do not have an H-1B visa stamped in my passport. I am from St. Kitts & Nevis and I had to go to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados to get my initial F-1 student visa, which has been expired since 2015. I am currently living in the U.S. and I have been wanting to visit my island for the past 3 years, but I was afraid to take the risk of leaving and possibly being denied reentry. I really need to go home this month (my father is sick) and I was wondering: would I absolutely have to fly to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados to get an H-1B visa stamp in my passport, or would I be able to go to an embassy in Canada or Mexico? Also, do you have any idea how long the process may take regarding the required time in advance to book the embassy visa appointment and how long it may take to receive the actual stamp in my passport? (I think the passport stamp took a day last time.) I don’t quite understand the rationale for people currently living in the U.S. being required to leave without any guarantee of approval and reentry.

        • Anil Gupta   9 Dec, 18 at 11:31 am

          I think since this will be your first H1B stamp after previous F1, you will be required to visit your home country (Barbados) US embassy.
          Canada and Mexico US embassy are also an option but the first time stamping there is usually high risk.

          Passport stamping takes 2-3 days if everything goes fine.
          Time to book appointment varies by each US embassy daily. You have to check specific embassy for details.

          • Maritza Scarborough   9 Dec, 18 at 11:45 am

            Wow, that was a quick response… and straight to the point! Thank you SO MUCH, Mr. Gupta! I really appreciate you taking the time. ☺️