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Apply for Reentry

If you want to travel outside the country during your time at Cornell, you should be aware of the visa requirements for reentry to the United States. 

J-1 Visa Renewal and Reentry 

If your J-1 visa stamp is expired or will expire while you are outside the country, you will need to apply for a new one to reenter the United States. (Canadian 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.  

Here are some things to keep in mind about the J-1 visa renewal process: 

H-1B/O-1/E-3 Visa Renewal and Reentry 

If your visa stamp has expired, or you have changed your nonimmigrant status to H-1B, O-1, or E-3 while in the United States and have never had an H-1B, O-1, or E-3 visa stamp in your passport, you will need to apply for a new one.  

You can’t get a U.S. visa stamp—not even a renewal—within the United States, so you must apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Although Canadians do not need a visa, U.S. consulates in Canada will issue visas for other foreign nationals.

Have these documents ready for the visa interview:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of first travel to U.S. 
  • Your invitation or appointment letter from Cornell University 
  • Letter from your Cornell host department/unit confirming continued employment 
  • DS-160 form 
  • ETA 9035 form 
  • I-797 form for your current position (E-3 workers excepted) 
  • 1-129 form (E-3 workers excepted)
  • If you are filing for an H-1B visa and you were ever in J-1 status: your original waiver of the two-year home residency requirement 

Find the U.S. consulate or embassy where you will apply for a visa, then follow the links on that embassy’s website to learn more about scheduling a visa appointment and relevant requirements. Some locations might require additional documentation.  

Reentering from Canada or Mexico  

If you have an expired J-1, H-1B, O-1, or E-3 visa stamp in your passport, 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. 

Ask for “automatic visa validation” at your port of entry into the United States. You will need to present your I-94 card along with the following: 

  • Valid passport 
  • Immigration status form: DS-2019 (J-1), I-797 (H-1B and 0-1), or ETA 9035 (E-3 Australians). 
  • Letter from your Cornell host department/unit confirming continued employment 

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

Automatic revalidation will work if you originally entered the United States in one nonimmigrant status, such as J-1, and have since changed to another nonimmigrant status like H-1B. In that case, your expired J-1 visa would be considered valid and changed to H-1B for your entry from Canada or Mexico into the United States. 

If your status has changed to H-1B or another nonimmigrant status, 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 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 Scholars