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Apply for F/J Reentry

If you want to travel outside the country during your time at Cornell, and your visa stamp is expired or will expire while you’re away, you will need to apply for a new one to reenter the United States. (Canadian students do not need a visa for reentry.)

You can’t get a U.S. visa stamp—not even a renewal—within the United States, so you must apply for the visa while you are abroad, in your home country or in a third country. (Contact the U.S. embassy/consulate in the third country for application eligibility.)

Learn more about traveling outside the United States for five months or less while in F-1 status.

If you have questions, come to our drop-in advising hours to talk with an advisor about the visa application process.

Visa Renewal Tips

Here are some things to keep in mind about the visa renewal process ...

Reentering from Canada or Mexico

If you have an expired nonimmigrant visa stamp in your passport (F or J), it will be considered valid in most cases when you reenter the United States from Canada or Mexico. This is called “automatic revalidation.” You must fulfill all of these requirements:

  • You have a valid I-94 arrival record stating your current status.
  • You have an expired nonimmigrant visa in your passport.
  • You will be in Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days.
  • You do not apply for a United States visa while in Canada or Mexico.
  • You are not from one of the countries currently considered by the U.S. federal government to be state sponsors of terrorism. The current list includes Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan.

Can I use automatic revalidation if I changed my visa status?

If you were previously in a different nonimmigrant status (such as H-1B) and changed to F or J status in the United States, then you do not need to change your visa status when you reenter from Canada or Mexico. This is only true if your old visa is still valid. In this case, your visa is considered "converted" to the new F or J visa category, as well as extended to allow your reentry.

You should carry your original I-797 approval notice while traveling. You can get a copy of your I-797 from the Office of Global Learning.

Can I use automatic revalidation if I visit another country from Canada or Mexico?

No, you must travel only to Canada or Mexico. For example, you can’t visit Canada, then fly to France, then return to Canada before reentering the United States.

Can I use automatic revalidation if I visit the Caribbean?

If you have an F or J status (but not any other status), you can reenter the United States with automatic revalidation for visits of less than 30 days to the “adjacent islands” (Caribbean). Find out more.

Next Up: Travel Documents for Students