Oftentimes, people assume that they must immediately apply for a new visa upon the expiration of their visa or risk leaving the United States. The essence of this article is to let you know that if you qualify and meet some requirements, you might be qualified for automatic visa revalidation.
The meaning of Automatic Visa Revalidation
If you travel to Canada, Mexico, or any of the islands listed below adjacent to the US except Cuba for below 30 days, you are authorized to re-enter the US even if your visa has expired.
In addition to this, the individual seeking revalidation must possess a valid Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, which is acknowledged by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Furthermore, another name for the Automatic Visa Revalidation is the Contiguous Territory Rule.
In a bid to make revalidation and extension of nonimmigrant visas easier, DHS in collaboration with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) created this program.
Below is the list of the United States adjacent islands and territories:
|Bermuda||Bonaire||The British Virgin Islands|
|Saint Eustatius||Saint Kitts-Nevis||Saint Lucia|
|Saint Maarten||Saint Martin||Saint Pierre|
|Tobago||Caicos Islandsand Turks||Any other French, British, and Dutch possessions or territories bordering the Caribbean Sea|
The individual who has the revalidated visa can then remain in the United States for the period of the extension, and the visa is revalidated for the exact duration that it was valid the first time, and the individual will be issued the same visa as the one he/she had before. That is to say that it is impossible for you to request a new visa or switch status through this process, and you are expected to abide by the same visa rules as you had before.
How can I qualify for the Automatic Visa Revalidation- Eligibility criteria?
For you to be eligible for automatic visa revalidation, you must meet the following requirements below:
- Have an expired US nonimmigrant visa.
- Have traveled to either Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands adjacent to the United States.
- Your travel must not have exceeded thirty days.
- Have an authorized admission stamp on your Form I-94.
- Have an authorization for your present status like either a Form I-20 for F-1 visa students or Form I-129 for non-immigrant workers.
- Have a new visa application that is pending or was rejected.
- Must not be a citizen of any of the countries listed below which are known to be a state sponsor of terrorism, they include:
- North Korea.
To further explain, we have given detailed process of obtaining Automatic Visa Revalidation, they are as follows:
Travel outside of the United States
You have to travel outside of the United States to either Canada, Mexico, or any of the US adjacent islands to qualify for automatic revalidation, however, you must apply caution when doing so because Canada or some of the adjacent islands might require a visa before you are permitted into the country, therefore, ensure you first apply for tha if you need it.
The thirty-day countdown begins once you exit the United States, therefore, make sure that you do not stay more than that. Also, you can either choose to cross the border and attempt to reenter or stay and visit the other countries or islands.
Present the necessary documents at the US port of entry
You must have the documents listed below when you are at a United States port of entry from either Canada, Mexico, or any of the adjacent islands:
- You must have a valid passport with a US nonimmigrant visa whether expired or valid. In a situation whereby you have a new passport without a visa, make sure you bring along with you, your old passport which contains the US visa.
- You must have a valid Form I-94 that is yet to expire.
- You must bring your Form I-797, Notice of Action for those who have received an extension or change of status during their time in the United States.
- You must have your Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrants which was given to you by the institution you are attending if you are on an F-1 or M-1 visa.
- You must bring your DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status which was given to you by your program sponsors if you are on a J-1 visa.
- You are expected to bring the same documents for your dependents, such as a spouse or children who are seeking automatic revalidation also.
At the US port of entry, the officers will evaluate your documents and your information and they will particularly pay attention and ask if you obeyed the law and your visa rules during your stay in the United States. This implies that you must have a clean criminal record to improve your chances of re-entry. Your chances of obtaining automatic revalidation will be slim if you have previously been sent to jail or committed a crime.
Wait for the final decision of the CBP officers
The officers are to make a decision after evaluating all the information given to them. It is entirely their responsibility to determine whether to permit you to enter or not. Please note that being in possession of all the required documents is not a guarantee that you will obtain approval for automatic visa revalidation.
Finally, you are permitted to enter the United States if the CBP officers approve your visa revalidation. It means that your nonimmigrant visa is now valid for the same period as your former one which means that if your visa was valid for only three years, your revalidation is valid for an extra three years.
Who are those that are not eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation?
If you fall under any of the below categories or are in the following situations, you are considered ineligible for an automatic visa revalidation:
- If you possess an expired Form I-94;
- If you have applied for a new visa and is yet to be issued to you;
- If you have applied for a new visa which was rejected/denied;
- If you were absent from the US beyond thirty days;
- If you traveled to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or any of the adjacent islands;
- If you are from a country known to be a state sponsor/ designated for terrorism;
- If you have either an F-1 or J-1 visa student visa and traveled to Cuba;
- If you have an M-1 visa and travelled to any country other than Canada and Mexico.
How can I apply for Automatic Visa Revalidation?
Truthfully, there is no specific application process to get automatic revalidation. In fact, you don’t have to either send in any forms to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or go to a United States Embassy or present supporting documents. We all know that these are processes you must follow when applying for a new visa and you are outside of the United States.
However, if you are in the United States already and your visa is close to expiring or it has expired already but you are in a period of grace, you are qualified to apply for visa revalidation.
Are Citizens of Visa Waiver Program eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation?
You are only permitted to pass through the process of automatic visa revalidation if you have a nonimmigrant visa. If your reason for being in the United States is because you are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), then you have no business doing this. Although you may not extend the validity of your VWP automatically, however, if you travel out of the United States and enter again, it will be included towards the time you are permitted to stay with a Visa Waiver Program.
If My Revalidation is denied, what can I do?
It is an established fact that you will be unable to enter the US again if the CBP officers deny your visa revalidation. Your best bet is to stay in a foreign country either Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands until you are able to travel back to your home country.
When you get to your home country, you can reapply for a United States nonimmigrant visa, and if that is the case. Get ready to go through the process of applications again in no particular order which includes getting the supporting documents, submission of forms, waiting for processing, and the visa interview at a US Embassy. If you succeed in getting a valid visa, you will be permitted to travel again to the United States.
Considerations and Tips for the Automatic Visa Revalidation
We advise you to pay attention to Form I-94 when collecting the documents for the automatic visa revalidation. Now, the US authorities will have given you a paper Form I-94 if you entered the US before the 30th of April, 2013, and this is the one that you must present to the CBP officers when requesting automatic revalidation while if you entered the United States after the 30th of April, 2013, you will be given an electronic Form I-94 by the US authorities. That being said, the CBP officers will be able to verify your status electronically when you are attempting to enter the US again.
However, we advise that you print a copy of the electronic Form I-94 and take it along with you.
In addition to this, for anyone entering the US through a sea or airport of entry, such person can only apply for an automatic visa revalidation, however, we do not recommend entering the United States for revalidation via a land port of entry.
That being said, it is better for you to buy an airline ticket to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands instead of trying to enter through land and jeopardize the chances of your revalidation getting approved.
Lastly, we have exhausted all you need to know about Automatic Visa Revalidation, and we hope that this information is useful to you.