The U.S. Department of State (DOS) regulations provide that if certain requirements are met, an expired visa stamp may be automatically revalidated to permit a foreign national to return to the U.S. after a brief visit solely to a contiguous territory. This provision of law – also known as the automatic visa revalidation or 30-day rule – permits the inspecting officer at the U.S. border to take the following action:
(1) Automatically extend the visa stamp validity to the date of application for readmission; or
(2) Convert the category of the visa stamp to the relevant visa classification needed by the applicant to return to the U.S. and extend the validity of that visa stamp to the date of application for readmission if the visa stamp is expired.
The requirements that must be met for this regulation to apply are the following:
- The applicant must present an expired or unexpired nonimmigrant visa stamp;
- The applicant’s period of authorized stay reflected on Form I-94 must be unexpired. For applicants with an electronic I-94a hard copy is recommended but not required as CBP has access to the electronic record. Applicants issued a paper I-94 card must be in possession of the unexpired card. In addition, if the applicant is in F, M or J status, he/she must also be in possession of a current and properly endorsed Form I-20 or DS-2019 that was issued by the applicable school or exchange program sponsor which shows an unexpired period of stay;
- The applicant must be applying for readmission to the U.S. after an absence which does not exceed 30 days and which has solely been in a contiguous territory;
- The applicant must have maintained proper status prior to his/her departure from the U.S. and intend to resume that nonimmigrant status upon readmission to the U.S.;
- The applicant must be in possession of a valid passport;
- The applicant cannot require authorization for admission under INA 212(d)(3) (i.e., requires a waiver due to a ground of inadmissibility); and
- The applicant did not apply for a new visa while abroad.
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