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My F1 is expired, but other documents are ok (I-20, I-94). I plan to come back to the US after a short trip to Canada using the AVR rule. Will I have any problems with getting a boarding pass on my way back?

My guess is that most airlines are unaware of the AVR process. I am not sure about the online check-in process though, if airlines can somehow check validity of the visa, I probably would get denied the boarding pass. I called Air Canada with the same question. They first said "no, you absolutely cannot get boarded with an expired visa". Then I explained the situation and the guy said "if you have a document, there should be no problem". It sounded like he does not really know what is going on during check-in.

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    If you are flying to the US from a major Canadian airport, you will likely go through US preclearance in Canada, and if the flight to the US is the first leg, then there isn't any real reason for the airline to care about your entry to the US, since you would have to pass US immigration before boarding the flight anyway (and the flight is basically a US domestic flights). – user102008 Jan 20 '18 at 22:31
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Check-in staff uses a database called Timatic. Unless you're a citizen of Cuba, Iran, Sudan or Syria:

Visa required, except for Those admitted to the USA on a visa, returning to the USA after a visit of max. 30 days to Canada or Mexico or to adjacent islands (except for Cuba)

When checking in online, you'll still be checked at the gate. Should the staff not be aware of AVR, tell them to check Timatic and look for the section I quoted. They are obliged to follow it.

Remember, even under AVR, you must present your stamped I-20 document at the border. Having a printed I-94 extract for check-in is also not a bad idea, to prove you spent 30 days or less in Canada, being that Canada is apparently phasing out entry stamps.

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    Also make sure you have a printed copy of your I94 (from www.cbp.gov/i94). – Doc Jan 17 '18 at 3:59
  • @Doc Is that mandatory though? The I-94 record does appear when the CBP swipes the passport, and Timatic doesn't say a printed I-94 is required. That said, of course it's not a bad idea to have it – Crazydre Jan 17 '18 at 4:25
  • @Doc I think these days of printed i94 are in the past, although I always have a paper copy when i travel. I never ever was asked to show it though. – Alice V Jan 17 '18 at 5:52
  • @Coke Thanks! This time I am going to cross the border twice actually. First crossing will be to Alaska from Canada via land (in one of these no-name small cities). So I will have a pack of paperwork with me, just in case. Airport should be easy, but a tiny port of entry in the middle of nowhere can be more problematic. – Alice V Jan 17 '18 at 5:57
  • @AliceV Your passport, I20 and (at the airport) the blue customs form is what you should present automatically – Crazydre Jan 17 '18 at 6:00
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Recent experience (from late May, 2018) with crossing the border on AVR (by land):

  • I planned my trip such that I would be driving through the border of Canada, south of Calgary, into Montana. I wanted to visit the Glacier National Park and therefore picked the border crossing site closest to it; it is called Chief Mountain, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-announces-opening-port-chief-mountain-0
  • I arrived there and found out that it was "class B" border crossing site and that I needed to go to "class A" sites with AVR. The closest sites were https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/piegan-mt and https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports/area-port-sweetgrass-montana-3310. I chose to go to the former since it was closer.
  • There, I was allowed into the country with no problem. I only showed my passport, EAD, and I20. I told them where I worked, as well as what I did in Canada (i.e. presented a paper at a conference), and they let me go. Btw, I spent the total of 7 days in Canada, but they didn't even ask about that (I assume, they saw the information about when and where I entered Canada in their system).

To summarize, I was nervous about AVR (from reading posts about delays and unfamiliarity of some officers with AVR and also hearing such stories from my university's internal students advisor) but it worked as expected. Before your trip, maybe check with a specific site about this class A/B distinction and make sure that they can indeed handle AVR; if it is difficult to confirm that, consider changing your route to avoid small (and/or seasonal) ports of entry, like the one I tried to use first.

  • From the definition at cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program/… it seems that you would have been unable to use a class B port of entry even if your visa had been valid. But the definition doesn't seem very comprehensive; for example, if you read it literally it says that US citizens may only use class A ports of entry. – phoog May 30 '18 at 18:09
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    @Dmitry-Duplyakin Thank you so much, that is very helpful! I checked my port, it is listed as A. Hope this info is still up to date. Anyway, great that you were able to cross. Hopefully my case will work out too. uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-11261/… – Alice V Jun 4 '18 at 21:49
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    For future reference: if you are not sure of your situation, find your port of entry here: cbp.gov/contact/ports You can call them, I called a remote (really really remote) POE in Alaska, they answered and were very friendly. Clearly explain what you have from your documents (everything, like i-20, etc). They will tell if you can (potentially) have any problems. – Alice V Jun 5 '18 at 6:28
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I just experienced this with Alaska Airline at Vancouver Airport. I had to check in at the Airline desk as the check-in machine does not allow me to check-in online. The agent could not print my boarding pass as their system told her that my visa is expired. But I can not go to the Customer Boarder Protection unless I have a boarding pass. The airline agent have absolutely no idea on what is automatic revalidation, either her manager. I had ended up to have my lawyer talked to the agent manager and she managed to print my boarding pass (by then, my original flight had took off and the new flights is 9 hours later arrival time). When passing me the boarding pass, the agent's manager still have confusion and told me she use her name to generate those tickets. I am not sure if this is only for Alaska airline or other airlines are the same. But I will check the airline first to make sure they understand what is AVR so there is no delays.

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    It's the ground handler, not the airline, that you need to contact – Crazydre Apr 16 at 11:36
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August 2019: Automatic Visa Revalidation (AVR) experience for expired F1 visa.

I departed to Victoria, British Columbia on July 26, 2019. My US visa expired on June 12, 2019. I stayed for 8 days and returned to the U.S. via Edmonton Airport.

I travelled from Victoria to Edmonton on August 04, 2019. When I arrived to Edmonton, there was a separate entrance for US connections. There, I scanned my boarding pass to enter. Then I went onto security (double layer despite security from Victoria). After passing security, I went onto Customs and Border Protection.

The man at the kiosk asked for my passport. He said that my visa had expired. Then I told him about AVR. He took me to a separate room behind the kiosk to another employee. I gave my new passport, old passport (with expired visa) and I-20. The man returned my passport in 10 minutes with a stamp on my expired visa page. Written on the stamp were my visa class (F1) and my date of expiration (D/S).

After that, I went to check-in to my gate. I was flying Delta. However, there was a problem with the system. I kept on reading my visa as expired despite the AVR approval / extension. This took about 30 minutes to figure out. In the end, they overrode the system in order to print my boarding pass and finally allowed me in.

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