Travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean
If you are an F-1 or J-1 student traveling to Canada or Mexico, or the Caribbean it's possible that you do NOT need to obtain a new visa stamp to reenter the U.S. This is referred to as automatic visa re-validation.
Are you allowed for travel to Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands* and re-enter the US with an expired visa?
Yes, but only if:
You are presently in valid F-1 or J-1 student status.
You are in possession of Form I-94 card or a printout from your I-94 record on the US Customs and Border Protection web page. Since you need this document to re-enter, be careful to not surrender it to the officer when you depart the US.
An I-20AB or SEVIS DS2029 signed for re-entry by your international student counselor.
We highly recommend that you bring both documents.
You have a copy of the Automatic Revalidation Bulletin, the most recent guidance from US Customs and Border Protection. Additional information can be found on the US Customs and Boarder Protection web site. This document is not required but we highly recommend that you bring a copy of this handout for your information and just in case you are challenged by the officer when you attempt to re-enter with an expired visa.
You have an unexpired passport valid at least six months into the future.
You have a previously-issued nonimmigrant visa (even for a different nonimmigrant classification).
You have not been outside the US for more than 30 days.
You are not from Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Cuba. Citizens from these countries are not eligible for automatic re-validation of an expired visa.
*The adjacent islands are: the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Pierre & Miquelon, Trinidad & Tobago, the Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and the British Virgin Islands), the Windward Islands (Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent), and other British, French, or Dutch territories or possessions in, or bordering on, the Caribbean Sea.