Normally a foreign national must present a valid and unexpired visa in the correct category when entering the U.S. An exception to this policy is for non–immigrants seeking entry into the U.S. after a visit of not more than 30 days to Mexico, Canada, or adjacent islands* (except Cuba). This is called Automatic Extension of Visa Validity.

Conditions for Automatic Extension of Validity at Ports of Entry

The student:

  • Is applying for readmission after a stay of not more than 30 days in an adjacent country or island
  • Is in lawful status and intends to resume that status upon return to the U.S.
  • Holds a valid passport
  • Has not applied for a new visa during this trip
  • Is not from a country identified as a state sponsor of terrorism:

             o Cuba
             o Iran
             o Iraq
             o Libya
             o North Korea
             o Syria

  • Is applying for readmission within the authorized period of stay, as shown on the I–94
  • Has an unexpired I–20 or DS–2019 signed for travel by an international student advisor
  • Is not inadmissible under I.N.A. 212 and has never had a visa canceled under I.N.A. 222(g)

When leaving the U.S. to visit Mexico, Canada, or an adjacent island, keep your I-94. It is important that you still have it when you re–enter the U.S. under the Automatic Extension provision.

What are the adjacent islands?

  • Saint Pierre
  • Miquelon
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Bermuda
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Jamaica
  • The Windward and Leeward Islands
  • Trinidad
  • Martinique
  • Other British, French and Netherlands territories or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea

You do not need a valid visa to visit Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. You will need a valid I-20 and an an unexpired I-94. Be sure your SEVIS records show you are in valid immigration status.

Source: U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement