Question: I am currently in the U.S. with an F-1 visa, but I already have a degree in Economics and Finance from Mexico. I received a job offer and I want to change my status to a TN visa. If I apply for a change of status, would I be able to travel to Mexico within that year? Or is it true that if I leave the U.S. I would have to apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy in Mexico, because as a Mexican I cannot enter the U.S. without a visa stamp in my passport?
Answer: It is true. If you do change status, and decide to depart the U.S., you will need to obtain a TN visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S.
However, there is a provision known as "visa re-validation," which may obviate the need for a new visa stamp. In certain situations, the border inspectors may automatically extend the validity of an expired visa stamp so that you may still enter the U.S. Even if you have changed status, the border may also convert your visa stamp to the changed classification so that you may enter under the new classification. But this only works under the following conditions:
You have a valid I-94 (or current I-20 for F-1 students / J-1 exchange visitors).
You visited either Canada or Mexico for a period not exceeding 30 days.
You have maintained and intend to resume your nonimmigrant status.
You’re applying for readmission to the U.S. within your authorized period of stay.
You have a valid passport.
You don’t need a nonimmigrant waiver because of a ground of inadmissibility.
You haven’t applied for a new visa stamp while you were in Canada or Mexico.
- You’re not a national of a country Congress considers to support terrorism. See
- 22 C.F.R. § 41.112(d).
If your F-1 visa stamp has expired, you may be able to travel to Mexico for 30 days or less and still enter the U.S. under TN status without obtaining a TN visa stamp provided you meet all the conditions described above.