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Automatic Extension of H-1B Visa Validity

Automatic extension of visa validity falls under the DHS code at 22CFR41.112(d). As currently implemented, Section 41.112(d) of 22 CFR permits aliens who are traveling in territories contiguous to the mainland U.S. or, in some cases, in adjacent islands and whose visas have expired to re-enter the United States without obtaining a new visa. The alien may do so provided that s/he has been outside the U.S. for not more than thirty (30) days and the alien’s I-94 remains valid. Contiguous territory refers to Canada and Mexico. The term "adjacent islands" means Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea (except Cuba).

In cases where the original nonimmigrant classification of an alien has been changed by USCIS to another nonimmigrant classification, the validity of an expired or unexpired nonimmigrant visa may be considered to be automatically extended to the date of application for readmission, and the visa may be converted as necessary to that changed classification.

Two major changes to automatic extension (revalidation) took effect on April 1, 2002. The two changes are:

  1. Citizens of states that sponsor terrorism cannot use the "automatic revalidation" provisions at all. The DOS has identified three ineligible countries; they are: Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

  2. If a person applies for a visa of any kind at a U.S. embassy or consulate while visiting Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean, that person is not permitted to return to the U.S. under the "automatic revalidation" provisions.

H-1B nonimmigrants should understand that as long as you are maintaining valid H-1B status, you can remain in the U.S. if your visa stamp has expired. International travel, however, is a personal choice, and this change may prompt persons to think carefully about their travel plans.

If you decide to travel using the automatic extension of visa provision, you must:

  1. NOT surrender your I-94 card when you leave the U.S.
  2. Be in possession of a Form I-94 endorsed by USCIS to show an unexpired period of initial admission or extension of stay.
  3. Not be abroad for more than 30 days and the travel must be limited to contiguous territory (Mexico or Canada) or adjacent islands.
  4. Maintain, and intend to resume, nonimmigrant status.
  5. Apply for readmission within the authorized period of initial admission.
  6. Be in possession of a valid passport.
  7. Not be required to apply for authorization for admission under INA212(d)(3).
  8. Have a country of citizenship that is not Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba.
  9. Not be traveling to contiguous territories to apply for a new visa.