Birth and residence: China, P.R.

Current: F1 in US, with valid I20 & I94 (valid until 2018), visa expired, visitor visa of Canada

Travel: Toronto -> Chicago -> Beijing

My question is, can I layover in the Chicago? I know students with F-visa can return to the US within 30 days from Canada. However, my case is a little bit special since I'm not returning US, but layover in the US to take another flight.

Though I can renew my US visa in Toronto, the risk is, if I cannot get cleared, I cannot re-enter US, and I will miss the planned flight.

  • 2
    I think from the point of view of US immigration, there isn't a lot of difference.
    – CMaster
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:31
  • This is a very unusual case. But it seems risky to me. I think it would be easier to simply fly home via Vancouver. Apr 13, 2016 at 15:48
  • 2
    Are your studies ending? If so, your I20 won't be valid and you can't enter in F1 status, so you can't use automatic revalidation. If not, why don't you just get a new F-1 visa while you're in Toronto? You'll need it when you return from China, after all.
    – phoog
    Apr 13, 2016 at 16:19
  • In response to those who suggest renewing the F-1 visa in Toronto, these answers say this is not recommended: (1), (2)
    – krubo
    Apr 17, 2018 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, it seems plausible, but you have to comply with all of the AVR requirements:

  • not ever being out of status
  • your SEVIS record must be current and active
  • and others per CBP

Couple suggestions

  1. Layover means entering US and exiting US. You will deal with US immigration (CBP) in Toronto pre-flight inspection. From personal experience with AVR, you might be sent to secondary inspection. Allow some time (~2-3 extra hours) for that.
  2. Many US CBP officers are not entirely aware of the AVR rule. Carry the linked AVR memo, as well as the text of the corresponding FAM and CFR. If the officer tells something like "I can not admit you with expired visa" politely show him the printout. If he still refuses, you have the right to have your case heard by the head of the port of entry. They are usually much more knowledgeable and they know the rules (personal experience).

PS. Unless it is some kind of emergency, I would renew your visa in Toronto.

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