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What are contiguous territories and adjacent islands for US immigration and USCIS requirements in 2024?

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You may have seen the terms “contiguous territories” and “adjacent islands” come up when looking through information about US Visas and ESTAs. But what exactly do they mean and which countries, islands, and areas are included?

The answer is relatively simple but information is difficult to find and you do need to be careful as to when it applies to you.

Which countries and territories are considered “contiguous territories” to the United States?

“Contiguous Territories” are any country sharing a common boundary with the United States. Canada and Mexico are contiguous to the United States.

Which islands and countries are considered “adjacent islands” to the United States?

“Adjacent Islands” are a more broad category and are as follows (according to

  • Saint Pierre
  • Miquelon
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Bermuda
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Jamaica
  • The Windward and Leeward Islands
  • Trinidad
  • Martinique
  • Other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea

You can find the original source of this list here in 8 USC 1101.

Which countries count to reset my ESTA visa waiver?

I've written a whole article about “resetting your ESTA” here because there are lots of intricacies to this process and it comes down to more than just which countries.

What is automatic revalidation and when can I re-enter from a contiguous countries or adjacent islands?

The automatic revalidation program is a provision of immigration law, whereby certain temporary visitors holding expired nonimmigrant visas who seek to return to the U.S. may be admitted at a U.S. port-of-entry by CBP, if they meet certain requirements, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Nonimmigrants who departed the United States for brief travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island (for F and J nonimmigrants) for thirty days or less;
  • Nonimmigrants with a valid (unexpired) admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, endorsed by DHS.

You can read more about automatic revalidation here.

Josh Pugh

Josh Pugh

Josh is a business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh. Josh is also the President of Variety – the Children's Charity of New York, Secretary at The Mateship Foundation, and Founder & CEO at Fortnight Digital.View Author posts

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