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Applying for a New U.S. Visa in Canada

U.S. non-immigrants may travel to Canada or Mexico for stays of thirty days or less and re-enter the United States on their expired U.S. visas (called the "automatic revalidation" benefit).  However, some individuals use this trip as an opportunity to apply for a U.S. visa, to facilitate future entries to the United States after travel abroad.

Any non-immigrant who chooses to apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico will not be eligible for the "automatic revalidation" benefit during the course of that trip, but will have to wait until the visa is approved in order to re-enter the United States. Thus, a non-immigrant foreign national who travels from the United States into Canada or Mexico, applies for a new U.S. visa there, and whose application is denied, will be barred from re-entering the United States. It is essential for international students to understand the risks that are involved in applying for a U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico. If the visa application is approved, no problem.  But if the visa is denied, you cannot return to the United States.

In addition, citizens of the following countries are not eligible for the automatic revalidation of visa benefit: Iran, Sudan, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. This means that a person who is a citizen of these countries can only enter Canada or Mexico and return to the United States if they have an unexpired multiple entry visa in their current status. So, if you have an expired U.S. visa, is it a good idea to attempt to renew the visa at a U.S. visa issuing post in Canada, rather than in your home country?

Generally, the most successful visa applications are those from individuals who are applying for a visa in a category that they have been issued previously, and who are continuing at the same school and in the same program for which the original visa was issued. However the risks for those who travel to Canada or Mexico for a new U.S. visa are heightened, because should the visa application be denied for any reason, you will no longer be allowed to re-enter the United States.

Official U.S. State Department information on obtaining a new U.S. visa in Canada is posted at Note that advance appointments are required at all U.S. visa issuing posts in Canada. But here's some information that you won't find on the official site.

Always come to the ISSS first, as you would prior to any trip abroad, to be sure that your visa documents are accurate, and that you have the required signatures. Pick up a copy of the ISSS handout, "Applying for a New F-1 or J-1 Visa Abroad." You will also want to request a letter certifying that you are an enrolled student and maintaining valid status, and you may need to recertify your financial support for a new I-20.. Some students may also need to apply for a Canadian visa to enter Canada. Go to for more information.

Like any U.S. visa interview, expect to show evidence that your ties to your home country are stronger than your ties to the U.S., that you have sufficient financial resources to support your studies and living expenses, and that you are maintaining satisfactory academic progress at your school. You will need a copy of your BU transcript. Also, be prepared to be asked why you are applying for a new visa in Canada rather than in your home country, why you have chosen your specific field of study, and how that field of study will be useful in your home country.

Special note to BU students who have "landed immigrant" status in Canada:

If you have "landed immigrant status", you are strongly advised not to travel to a U.S. visa issuing post in Canada to obtain a new U.S. visa unless you have established a residency in Canada for which you can show proof; such as rent receipts, employment in Canada, immediate family living there, etc. Individuals who have "landed immigrant status" in Canada but who have not established residency in Canada will find it impossible to prove to a U.S. visa official that they have strong ties to Canada, and equally impossible to prove that they still have strong ties to their home country (U.S. visa officials will assume that anyone who has obtained "landed immigrant" status in Canada no longer plans to return to their country of citizenship). In such instances, U.S. visa officials will deny the visa application.


Last Updated: 8/28/14