Travel to Canada/Mexico and Re-Entry to the United States, Information for International Students:
What Documents Do I Need to Re-enter the U.S.?
To re-enter the U.S., you will be required to show:
- An unexpired passport *
- Proof of your immigration status:
- If you are in F-1 status: Your I-20 with a DSO signature on page 3 that is less than one year old
- If you are in J-1 status: Your DS-2019 with a travel signature that is less than one year old
- If you are in H-1B status: Your unexpired Form I-797 Approval Notice
- An unexpired U.S. Visa Stamp **
If your visa has expired, please see "Applying for a U.S. Visa"
* Note: You are required to have a passport that is valid for six months beyond the period of your intended stay in the U.S. Exception: Citizens of countries on the “Six-Month Club” list can re-enter the U.S. with less than six months of validity as long as their passport is still valid. If your country of citizenship is NOT on this list, DO NOT attempt to enter the U.S. unless you have at least six months of validity on your passport.
** Note: You may or may not need a U.S. visa to re-enter the U.S. from Canada. This will depend on many factors, such as the length of your stay in Canada. Please read the questions below for more details.
Do I need a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. from Canada if my trip was less than 30 days?
Under the “automatic revalidation of visa” benefit, individuals on nonimmigrant visas (F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, H-1B, H-4, etc.) may re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa after a stay of less than 30 days in Canada or Mexico. (Individuals in F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 status may also enter the U.S. after a stay of less than 30 days on islands in the Caribbean). To re-enter, F-1 students will need a valid I-20, up-to-date signature on page 3 of their I-20 and unexpired passport. J-1 students and scholars will need a valid DS-2019, up-to-date travel signature on their DS-2019 and unexpired passport.
There are two important exceptions to the “automatic revalidation of visa” benefit:
- Individuals from Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria may not re-enter the U.S. with an expired visa. This means that they will have to return to their home country, renew their U.S. visa there and attempt to return to the U.S.
- Individuals whose U.S. visa application is pending or was denied may also not re-enter the U.S. They will also have to return to their home country, renew their U.S. visa there and attempt to return to the U.S. Please note that this restriction applies even if the original U.S. visa is still valid.
Do I need a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. from Canada if my visa stamp indicates a different nonimmigrant status than my current documents because I changed my status while I was in the U.S. AND my trip was less than 30 days?
NO. If your application for a change of status was approved and your current documents are in accordance with the new status, you may re-enter the U.S. without a visa stamp matching your new status as long as your trip to Canada was less than 30 days and you are not a citizen of Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
Do I need a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. if my trip to Canada was more than 30 days?
YES. If your trip to Canada was more than 30 days, you will need a VALID U.S. visa stamp in addition to your other immigration documents to re-enter the U.S.
Do I need a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. from Canada if I traveled to another country?
YES. If you traveled to another country outside Canada (regardless of the length of time) and you wish to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, you must have a valid U.S. visa stamp to re-enter the U.S.
Note: If your U.S. visa stamp has expired or will expire prior to the date of your re-entry to the U.S., you must apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. This may only be done OUTSIDE U.S. borders.