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What is AVR?
Automatic revalidation is an official process for people with expired visa stamps in their passports, to help them re-enter the USA without getting a new visa stamp.
The short form is known as the AVR process.
This CBP rule is also known as the contiguous territory rule.
Who Can Use AVR?
All valid H1B visa holders and students in F status, who went outside the U.S. for travel to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands, except Cuba (for F and J non-immigrants) for 30 days or less are eligible for automatic revalidation.
You should NOT visit any countries other than Mexico or Canada in that period in this visit.
Travelers who are on an 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
For 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 an old passport.
#3 Un-expired i94
You will have this new i94 attached to your i797A notice of approval after you get an approved extension for your visa type.
Example: H1B, H4 or L visa holders get their new i94 after extension approval in i797A.
Who is Not Eligible for AVR?
Automatic revalidation is not available if you are going for visa stamping in Canada or Mexico.
You have to have the new visa stamp to re-enter the USA in this case.
There should be no pending visa application at the time of re-entry to make use of the ‘Automatic Revalidation’ process.
- An H1B worker with an expired visa visits the US embassy in Canada or Mexico to get a new H1B visa stamp.
- If the new visa stamp is issued in your passport, you can re-enter the USA using the new visa.
- If the visa stamp is denied or is pending for form 221g or DS 5535 processing with the US embassy, you cannot use the automatic visa revalidation rule.
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 land or air.
Just walk into the immigration desk as usual at the port of entry in the USA, when you return and present your documents. The experience is the same as you would enter the US with a valid visa stamp.
A valid i94 is required for using AVR at the 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 is considered valid only up to that date and day.
It cannot be used for future re-entry from any other country.
Of 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 the AVR process.
Automatic revalidation is allowed in case you change your status after entering the US territory on some other visa.
For example, if you entered the US on an H1B visa and later changed your status to H4 within the USA, you are still eligible to use visa revalidation at the port of entry.
Once you use the AVR service, the changed visa status is also revalidated.
You cannot enter the USA using the AVR process if your visa application is pending with the US embassy in Canada or Mexico.
Citizens of countries who are designated as a ‘State sponsor of terrorism‘ by the US government are not eligible for visa revalidation.
H1B visa holders cannot use AVR to enter the US if they are going to the Bahamas for a cruise.
H1B can only use AVR with Mexico or Canada travel.
You cannot use AVR to return to the 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 the AVR process for the i94 extension after passport renewal.
There is no AVR required if you are visiting Puerto Rico for a closed-loop cruise.
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 territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea