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Travel to Canada and Mexico

Canada and Mexico are common vacation destinations for international students studying in the United States. Before you travel to either of these border countries, or certain contiguous territories or islands, you should determine what entry requirements - if any - these countries' governments may have for you. You should also review the information below about re-entering the United States after traveling abroad.

Automatic Revalidation of Visa Validity

If you travel to Canada, Mexico, or certain contiguous territories and islands near the U.S., for less than 30 days, you may be permitted to re-enter the United States with an expired F-1 or J-1 visa. You are not eligible for this benefit if you have been denied an application for visa renewal in any of these destinations. Citizens of the following countries are not eligible for automatic revalidation of visa validity:

  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Sudan
  • Cuba

For more information about Automatic Revalidation of Visa Validity, please review the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Automatic Revalidation information or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Travel FAQ for F-1 Nonimmigrants webpage. Please note that this benefit does not apply to the Visa Waiver program.

Retention of I-94 Arrival/Departure Card

You must generally surrender your I-94 Arrival/Departure card when leaving the United States. However, you may retain your original I-94 card when traveling to Canada or Mexico when the duration of your stay there is less than 30 days. If the Port of Entry officer takes your I-94 card, make sure you are issued a new one when you re-enter the United States.

Entry Visas

Before traveling to Canada or Mexico, visit those governments' consular websites to determine if you will need to apply for an entry visa. Your U.S. visa does not authorize you to request entry into Canada or Mexico.

Travel after Completion of Studies

If you travel to Canada or Mexico during the 60 day grace period following the completion of your academic program or post-completion practical training, you may not re-enter the United States in F-1 or J-1 status unless you have been authorized for a new degree program that begins within five months. You may need to apply for a U.S. travel visa in order to re-enter the United States during your grace period.