If you wish to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consular post in Canada or Mexico, you must make an appointment for an interview. A new visa cannot be obtained at a border port-of-entry.
- Check your status with ISSS before departing
- Check information on government websites (see below)
- Be sure to use the correct appointment website – Canada or Mexico
- Check for required documents before leaving U.S.
- Present NEW visa and documents when re-entering
Note: Canada has introduced an entry requirement, known as an Electronic Travel Authorization or eTA, for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air. Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid visa. Entry requirements for other methods of travel (land, sea) have not changed. Travelers will need an eTA before they can board a flight to Canada.
Individuals who have ever been out of status in the United States because they overstayed their visa are not eligible to apply at a consular post in a third country. In other words, if you have remained in the U.S. longer than the period authorized by the immigration officer when you entered the U.S. in any visa category, you must apply in the country of your nationality. If you are not certain about your status, check with an ISSS advisor before you leave.
Individuals seeking appointments should be aware that applicants may be more likely to encounter difficulties at the time of the interview when they apply for a visa outside of their home country. Consular officers at consular posts will deny visas whenever they believe there is fraudulent information, or their lack of knowledge of local conditions and familiarity with documents in the applicant's home country prevents them from properly adjudicating the case. Students and Exchange Visitors who are remaining in the same immigration status upon their return to the United States from Canada or Mexico (within thirty days) may find it more convenient to wait and apply for a new visa at home or elsewhere in conjunction with a future international trip. See Automatic Revalidation below for more information.
Re-Entry into the United States
Important Notice: Petition-based visas (H, L, O, P categories)
As of 2008, consular officers may no longer accept Form I-797 as sufficient evidence for visa adjudication. Petition approval and visa eligibility must be confirmed in the Department of State's Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) database. PIMS verification takes on average 24-48 hours to complete. A visa will not be authorized in the interim.
Those who plan to just visit Canada, Mexico, or, the adjacent islands may re-enter the U.S. within thirty days on expired visas as long as they keep their valid I-94 card or printout during departure. This is called automatic revalidation. Applicants will only be able to re-enter the United States if they are found eligible for the status written on their I-94 card or printout, and have an expired visa stamped in their passport. The individual must not have actually applied for a new visa. However, if the individual applied for a new visa in Canada or Mexico, they are no longer eligible for automatic revalidation by using a valid I-94 card or printout. Also, the consular officer will cancel any current visa when the holder is no longer eligible for the visa status, and therefore the holder is not eligible for re-entry to the United States. Please also check with an ISSS advisor if in the H-1B CapGap.
Please note: H-1B status holders are only eligible for automatic revalidation after a trip solely to Canada or Mexico, not to the islands in the Caribbean. Citizens of Iran, Syria, and Sudan are not eligible for automatic revalidation.
Certain nationalities require visas from Canadian authorities in order to enter Canada. Check for a visa issuing Canadian Consulate at the link below.
Official Canadian and Mexican Government Sites
- General information visitor for Canada (visas to enter Canada, Canadian consulates in the U.S.)
- U.S. visas for third country nationals applying in Mexico
- Mexican consulate in St. Paul, MN
- Mexican visas - general