Automatic visa revalidation (“AVR”) refers to a process allowing temporary visitors to the U.S. who hold an expired nonimmigrant visa to re-enter the U.S. without having to obtain a new visa. It applies in situations where the nonimmigrant status is valid but the visa has expired. Revalidation allows the visa holder to travel outside the U.S. for a short period of time, usually up to 30 days.  This minimizes the risk that they will not be able to re-enter the country upon their return. 

Automatic visa revalidation is not the same as obtaining a visa extension or filing for a new visa. If the person has filed for a new visa, they will not be eligible for AVR. Nonimmigrants may apply for visa revalidation at the U.S. Consulate where the original visa was obtained, or alternatively through the State Department.

Visa Revalidation can be a favorable option for persons with nonimmigrant status. It allows the person to re-enter the U.S. without having to go through the reapplication process, which can be time-consuming. Also, revalidation is relatively inexpensive compared to other options (such as traveling to the home country in order to apply for a new visa). 

Who is Eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation?

Automatic visa revalidation is only reserved for certain classes of visa holders. To be eligible for automatic visa revalidation, the following requirements must be met:

  • The nonimmigrant visa holder has a valid, unexpired Form I-94: Arrival-Departure Record. The form must be endorsed by the Department of Homeland Security
  • Nonimmigrant status is valid (even if visa has expired)
  • A valid passport
  • For F and J nonimmigrant classifications, the travel outside of the U.S. must be for thirty days or less, and is limited to the countries of Mexico, Canada, or an adjacent island

Previously, revalidation was allowed for the visa classifications E, H, I, L, O, and P. However, in response to the 9/11 events, visa revalidation has been discontinued for these classes. New procedures effectively restrict AVR to situations wherein the person is traveling to Mexico or Canada for 30 days and is not seeking a new visa. 

Who is Not Eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation?

Automatic visa revalidation is not available if the nonimmigrant:

  • Has applied for a new visa which has not yet been issued or was denied
  • Has traveled outside of the U.S. for a period longer than 30 days
  • Traveled to a country other than Mexico, Canada, or one of the adjacent islands listed in the AVR provisions
  • Is a national of any country designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, North Korea, or Cuba
  • Possesses an F (student) or J (exchange visitor) visa and traveled to Cuba
  • Possess an M student visa and traveled to a destination outside of the United States besides Canada or Mexico
  • Has obtained a visa under the Visa Waiver Program

If any of the above circumstances apply, the nonimmigrant will be required to reapply for a new visa. Visas can be reissued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.   

The most significant requirement is that revalidation is not available to those who have reapplied for a new visa but have had their application denied. Therefore you should only apply for a new visa if you are certain that it will be granted.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Automatic Visa Renewal?

You may wish to obtain the services of an immigration lawyer to determine your eligibility for automatic visa renewal. AVR is an effective way to ensure that your stay in the U.S. does not present any legal conflicts. An attorney can help guide you through the AVR process to ensure that you are in conformity with immigration requirements.