about your entry visa

Your entry visa is only important when you need to enter the U.S. from abroad. It is not a problem if it expires while you are in the U.S. See general information on visas under  Basic Terms and Concepts.
 
Your first entry visa for a particular status must be obtained outside the U.S. If you leave and make a new entry, you will need a new visa before you reenter if 1) the visa has expired; 2) you have used all the entries allowed or 3) you have changed to a different immigration status than the one covered by the visa or to a different J-1 program. Exceptions apply to those who are eligible for automatic revalidation (below) and to Canadian citizens.

There are a number of special issues which relate to entry visas. 

AUTOMATIC REVALIDATION

If you make a trip to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days and your entry visa has expired, you can normally return to the U.S. without applying for a new visa (see exceptions below). This is true even if you have changed your status in the U.S. and your current status does not match that of the expired visa. Automatic revalidation from Canada or Mexico is applicable to all visa types. Individuals in F-1 and J-1 status are also eligible for automatic revalidation when traveling to adjacent islands of the United States, such as Jamaica.
 
To qualify for automatic revalidation you must:

  • have your I-94 in hand -- Do not surrender it when you leave the U.S. If you received an electronic I-94, then prior to your trip print out your electronic admission record from www.cbp.gov/i94 and secure it with your other immigration documents;
  • have the document which supports your status, (e.g., those in F-1status must have an
  • endorsed I-20 and J-1s must have an endorsed DS-2019, etc.);
  • return to the U.S. from contiguous territory within 30 days or, for F-1s and J-1s, from contiguous territory or adjacent islands within 30 days;
  • have maintained and intend to resume nonimmigrant status;
  • have your expired visa with you, even if it is in an old passport.

Exceptions:

  • Nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan North Korea, and Cuba are not eligible for automatic revalidation.
  • Automatic revalidation cannot be used by individuals who are applying for a visa in Canada or Mexico. You cannot re-enter the U.S. while waiting for your visa, and if the visa is denied, you will not be able to return.
  • Automatic revalidation does not apply if you intend to return to the U.S. in a new status. In this case a new visa must be obtained. See below.

APPLYING FOR A U.S. ENTRY VISA IN CANADA OR MEXICO

If you wish to apply for a U.S. entry visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Canada or Mexico, you must first make an appointment through this website: www.nvars.com. A credit card is necessary for paying the scheduling fee. It is also possible to schedule an appointment via the telephone number listed at this website. More up-to-date appointment information may be available via the telephone, but calling can be time-consuming and expensive.

You may not be eligible to apply for a visa in Canada or Mexico if you have ever overstayed your status, even for as little as one day.
 
According to new regulations, effective April 1, 2002, if your visa is denied for any reason, you will not be able to return to the U.S.

If you are from a country for which a Canadian entry visa is required, you will need to allow time to obtain the visa through the Canadian consulate in Detroit. The ISSS office has information and application forms, or you can visit their website at www.cic.gc.ca. It is sometimes possible to obtain the visa in one day if you go in person. Applying by mail can take at least a couple of weeks.

NOTE: If your field of study is technologically sensitive, such as nuclear physics, you may experience delays in getting your visa while a clearance is obtained from the State Department. You will not be permitted to return to the U.S. while you wait for this clearance.

VISA WAIVER PROGRAM

Citizens of the following countries are eligible to come as tourists to the U.S. for 90 days or less without obtaining an entry visa. The status of people coming on the visa waiver program will be either WB or business or WT for pleasure. No extension or change of status is permitted.

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