My visa is expired, but my Form I-94 is still valid. Can I travel outside of the U.S.?

Pursuant to the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Inspector’s Field Manual Ch. 15.3, 8 CFR § 214.1(b), and 22 CFR § 41.112(d), automatic visa revalidation applies to expired nonimmigrant visas of foreign nationals who have been outside of the United States for 30 days or less to visit a contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico). The validity of an expired nonimmigrant visa is automatically extended to the date on which the foreign national applies for readmission. Automatic visa revalidation also applies to situations in which United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted a change from the initial nonimmigrant classification to another nonimmigrant classification before the foreign national’s temporary departure.

A foreign national may rely on automatic visa revalidation when s/he holds an expired visa with which s/he was previously admitted and is in possession of a valid Form I-94 card showing an unexpired period of initial admission or extension of stay; (i) is applying for readmission after an absence not exceeding 30 days solely in contiguous territory; (ii) has maintained and intends to resume nonimmigrant status; (iii) is applying for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission or extension of stay; (iv) is in possession of a valid passport and (v) has not applied for a visa while outside of the United States.

As long as you meet the above-mentioned criteria, you are not required to obtain a new visa, provided that your passport validity requirements are met. In addition, there is no limit to the number of entries you can make under the automatic revalidation provisions, provided that all eligibility requirements and criteria are met.

Training on the automatic revalidation provisions is currently administered at the CBP Academy during basic training, as well as during post academy training that is administered after the trainee officers have returned from the academy. The training is also administered to officers during immigration cross-training, and periodic musters are disseminated to the field regarding automatic revalidation. Attached is documentation of training and muster material including copy of the CBP Fact Sheet which is accessible to CBP Officers for informational purposes, addressing the laws and regulations concerning automatic revalidation, as noted above.

You should NOT turn in your currently valid I-94 card on departure from the U.S. to Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days. If the airline tries to demand it be turned in, it should be explained that this is the travel document required to return to the U.S. The airline official should be directed to the highlighted section of the attached CBP guidance entitled Filling out I-94 Arrival-Departure Record.

In addition to carrying copies of the attached guidance, you should also be in possession of the following for automatic revalidation purposes: your valid passport containing the expired visa stamp; your original I-94 Arrival/Departure Record and a photocopy of the I-4; your I-797 Notice of Action Approval Notice or endorsed Form I-129S and a photocopy, as applicable and documentation of the duration of your trip.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm by phone at 704-442-8000 or via email with any additional questions and to receive more information.