USCIS approved my change of status from F-1 to T-1 recently. My attorney tells me that there is a procedure called “automatic visa revalidation” which will allow me to reenter from a short trip to Canada or Mexico without first being issued a visa. Kurzban’s Ch 5.IV.E.3: “This provision may not apply where the person changed status in the U.S. and never had a visa or the visa has expired. Letter, Hernandez, HQ 70/6.2.5 (Nov. 2, 2001), reprinted in 79 No. 2 Interpreter Releases 38, 54–56 (Jan. 7, 2002) [Canadian with expired E visa who left with valid I-94 for less than 30 days could return; however, if he entered as a visa-exempt visitor and then did C/S to an E in the U.S. instead of obtaining the visa, he could not return on the I-94].” My F-1 visa is expired. Does the Hernandez letter mean that there is no more automatic visa revalidation?
I have old issues Interpreter Releases going back to before 1981 when I left government service as an immigration prosecutor. I looked at our January 7, 2002, Interpreter Releases and read the Hernandez letter and it clearly limits its applicability to Canadian E-2’s under 8 C.F.R. sec. 212.1(l) because of the provisions of NAFTA. As you are not a Canadian national and your visa status is not an E classification, the automatic visa revalidation procedure is still available to you after a short trip to Canada or Mexico not exceeding 30 days, provided that you are otherwise admissible (e.g. no criminal grounds of inadmissibility.)
(213) 394-4554 x0 Mr. Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) with over 35 years of immigration experience. His response to your question is general in nature, as not all the facts are known to him. You should retain an attorney experienced in immigration law to review all the facts in your case in order to receive advice specific to your case. Mr. Shusterman's statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.
It appears that the research of my colleague is correct. I repeated it too and agree that you will only be a able to use automatic revalidation on a short trip to either Mexico or Canada.
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