When considering travel to countries adjacent to the U.S. there are two questions to consider: Does your country of citizenship require a visa (e.g. Canadian visa) to enter that country, and will your U.S. immigration status allow you to return to the U.S. (e.g. from Canada.)
For citizens of some countries, you may need a visa to enter Canada, Mexico or the adjacent caribbean islands. Please check the sites below to see if citizens of your home country are required to have a visa stamp (e.g. a Canadian tourist visa) to enter an adjacent country. If a visa is required you will need to prepare all of the materials and make your visa application directly with that countries consulate (usually New York is the closest) directly. Obtaining visas to enter countries other than the U.S. is not a service OISS can provide.
A majority of students and scholars in the U.S. do not need a new U.S. visa to return to the U.S. after visiting an adjacent country. Citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Sudan are not eligible for this process known as Automatic Revalidation. The provision allows certain U.S. visa holders to re-enter the U.S. after a visit of less than 30 days to a "contiguous territory" (Canada, Mexico, and, in the case of F and J non-immigrants, the "adjacent islands other than Cuba") without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. Students and scholars in F and J visa status who are maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status in the United States, and who travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean islands, for 30 days or less, can re-enter the U.S. with the printed I-94 card, a valid passport, and a current form I-20 or DS-2019 (with valid travel signature) plus a previously-issued U.S. embassy visa stamp (which could be expired, or even in a different category than the I-94 if a change of status has been approved in the U.S.). Please speak to an advisor in OISS if you have questions about this provision.
Persons in H-1 or O-1 status are also eligible to use the automatic revalidation for trips of less than 30 days - but only to Canada or Mexico. The H or O scholar must have a valid I-94 record, passport and an USCIS issued I-797 Approval Notice for their current employer.
Automatic revalidation of visa does NOT apply if:
Thanks to the Automatic Revalidation procedure mentioned above most students and scholars do not need to apply for a new visa stamp. In addition, due to a number of complex government policies, OISS recommends that Yale students and scholars never plan to apply for new U.S. visa stamp from a U.S. consulate while visiting an adjacent country, unless absolutely necessary. If you do plan to apply for a new U.S. visa while visiting an adjacent country, please speak with an OISS adviser before you travel to understand the risks.
Medex Travel Assistance Program