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Special provisions for return travel from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands:
Generally, you must have a valid visa to return to the U.S. from abroad. However, there is a special provision called Automatic Visa Revalidation [22 CFR 41.112 (d); 8 CFR 214.1 (b) (1-4)] that applies to travel within the Northern Hemisphere; if you are in F-1 or J-1 status and your F-1 or J-1 visa is expired, you may nevertheless return to the U.S. from a trip to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands even with an expired visa, provided that you meet all the following conditions:

Note: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are U.S. territories and thus an F-1 or J-1 student does not need a visa to travel to those locations from within the U.S., or to return to the U.S. from those locations.

It can be helpful to print out a copy of the relevant automatic visa revalidation regulations (22.C.F.R. 41.112(d) and 8 CFR 214.1 (b) (1-4)) to carry with you when traveling.

Important

For F-1 students: If you changed status while in the U.S. (e.g. H-4 to F-1) using Form I-539 and thus never had an F-1 visa, you can use automatic visa revalidation provision, provided the same conditions above apply. You would need to carry the documents listed above in addition to your previous visa and a Change of Status Approval Notice (Form I-797). It is recommended that you also request a letter from the International Student Advisor that explains your eligibility to re-enter under this provision.