Travel to Canada, Mexico, and Adjacent Islands of the United States
ECFMG-sponsored physicians and their J-2 dependents who are traveling to Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands of the United States (except Cuba; see note below) for less than 30 days are not required to have a valid J visa in their passport upon reentry to the United States, as long as they previously entered the United States in a nonimmigrant visa category and have been maintaining valid nonimmigrant status. (See exceptions to this rule below.) To qualify for Automatic Visa Revalidation, physicians must present the following to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer upon reentry to the United States:
- Travel-validated Form DS-2019 (validated by ECFMG Regional Advisor)
- Valid passport
- A previously issued visa, which may be expired or in a category other than J
- Form I-94 reflecting J-1 visa status (NOTE: Form I-94 (Entry/Departure Record) should not be turned over to airline or immigration officials upon departure from the United States if it is your intent to reenter the United States based on Automatic Visa Revalidation.)
Exceptions to the automatic revalidation rule:
1. Citizens of certain countries are not eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation.
Citizens of certain countries (at the time of this writing, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria) are not eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation and require a valid J visa each time they reenter the United States. Please be advised that the countries included on this list are subject to change.
2. Individuals who apply for a new visa stamp are not eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation while their application is pending at a U.S. consulate or if they are denied a visa.
A J-1 physician who chooses to apply for a nonimmigrant visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate in a contiguous territory (Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands, except Cuba) is not eligible to return to the United States under Automatic Visa Revalidation while the application is pending or if the application is denied at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
If the visa application is denied, the J-1 applicant will be required to travel directly elsewhere (most likely to his/her home country) to apply again for a U.S. visa stamp before s/he may return to the United States. Please note that this restriction applies to citizens of all countries, not just the four countries noted above.
Note: Adjacent Islands of the United States – Saint Pierre, Miquelon, The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, The Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, Other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.
Applying for a Visa at a U.S. Consulate in Canada or Mexico
Applying for a visa at a U.S. Consulate in Canada or Mexico when not a citizen or permanent resident of that country is a courtesy that is not extended to all applicants. J-1 physicians and J-2 dependents should contact the U.S. consulate before making any travel arrangements. Be sure to inform the consular officer of the circumstances of your potential application (country of birth, legal permanent residence) to ensure that you receive complete and correct information. Visa appointments in Canada and Mexico may be scheduled on-line through the U.S. Visa Information Service website.
Back to top