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INS Restrictions on
Automatic Visa Revalidation
on Return to US

Dear Business Administrator,

We at the Office of International Programs would be grateful if you would make sure that all of the international scholars in your department (i.e. those in J, H, TN, O or another nonimmigrant status) receive the very important message below.

We have sent this message directly to the scholars for whom we have email addresses, but these are less than half of the international scholars at Penn.

We would also be grateful, therefore, if you would ask scholars who did not receive the message directly from us to send an email message to to provide us with their email addresses. Please stress how important it is in the current changing climate that we have a valid email address for every international scholar at Penn.

--The OIP Advising Staff

Dear Scholar,

We write to inform you of an important INS regulatory change that will in certain cases affect students and scholars who travel to Canada, Mexico or the islands of the West Indies.

On April 1, 2002 new INS regulations will take affect restricting "automatic revalidation of visas" for persons who travel to so-called "adjacent territories." Under the old regulations, a person could travel to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands for a period of less than 30 days with an expired U.S. visa stamp and reenter the U.S. using that expired visa stamp along with a valid F, J or H immigration document (i.e. a valid I-20, IAP-66 or I-797).

As of April 1 the new regulations cancel automatic revalidation for two classes of persons:

1) all persons traveling on passports issued by Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba

2) all persons who visit a U.S. consulate in Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands and submit an application there for a new nonimmigrant visa

Please note that under this second provision, if you travel to Canada, for example, with an expired visa stamp in your passport and apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate you will only be able to return to the United States if your new visa is granted. If your visa application is denied you will not be able to return to the United States. In the event of visa denial in Canada (or in Mexico or the adjacent islands) you will have to travel to another U.S. embassy or consulate, probably one in your home country, to apply for a new visa there. This second provision of the new regulations thus ends a very popular, convenient and risk-free strategy for obtaining a nonimmigrant U.S. visa.

Automatic revalidation will remain in effect after April 1, however, for persons who do not apply for U.S. visas while they are in Canada, Mexico or the West Indies (except, of course, for persons traveling on passports issued by the seven countries listed above, for whom automatic revalidation is cancelled in all circumstances). Thus (unless you are from one of the seven countries listed) you will still be able to travel to these adjacent territories with an expired visa and return using the expired visa and your valid I-20, IAP-66 or I-797 if you do not apply for a new U.S. visa while you are there.

The Department of State describes these new regulations as an effort to provide "greater security screening of visa applications." The regulations will take effect on April 1, without prior public comment. There is, however, a public comment period that ends on May 6, 2002. Comments received by the Department of State in this period may possibly lead to revision of the new regulations. We will be sure to let you know if any further changes are forthcoming.

Thank you very much for your attention. Please do not hesitate to visit OIP to meet with an advisor if you have any questions about these new regulations.

--The OIP Advising Staff

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 27, March 26, 2002


March 26, 2002
Volume 48 Number 27

Five innovators and luminaries will receive honorary degrees at Commencement.
Total undergraduate charges for tuition, fees, room and board will increase 4.6 percent for the coming year.
The Senate Committee on the Faculty reports on the Gender Equity Report published December 4, 2001.

INS Restrictions on automatic visa revalidation could affect international scholars at Penn.

This year's Antiques Show will benefit Penn's Institute for Environmental Medicine.