Soft-landing and AVR


So there are a couple of other soft-landing + AVR threads out there. However, thought to start a new one with a specific situation.

I and wifey have approved PR. We are thinking of doing soft-landing in Vancouver, staying there for a few days (hopefully sorting out some of the moving work) and coming back to the U.S. We have approved H1B’s and H4 I-797’s. However, our visa stamps expired back in September 2018. Can we use the AVR rule to come back into the U.S?

Any help would be much appreciated.

With Regards,

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Yes you can use AVR for entering back in USA .
( note : you can’t use AVR in case you plan for US visa stamping while in Canada , and unfortunately the visa stamp is denied )

Also note that the chances of visa stamp refusal (if you plan on doing it outside US) increase if you’re appointment is not in your home country (e.g. India).

Same is probably not true for AVR. However as things are going these days, I would recommend making arrangements for working remotely in case AVR/visa stamp is denied in Canada.

Thanks much for the replies. Going AVR route is precisely to completely avoid the whole H1B & H4 visa stamping exercise.

Anyone else have recent experience with AVR. Specifically going through Vancouver to do soft-landing and coming back soon after?

With Regards,

The questions and the responses around the AVR are really helpful on this thread! We are follow up question around the same line. How was the experience with AVR with air travel?I know the US immigration is completed in Canada. Will we have to specify that we want a reentry via AVR or based on the passport and expired visa they just ask questions accordingly?
We wanted to check if it would be easier via air travel or just driving across the border or it doesn’t really matter?

Appreciate the response!


One of my friend did his landing via Air and returned. He also mentioned that immigration is done at Toronto airport itself. I think you should not have any issues with using AVR.

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Hi all, trying to get some thoughts on anyone who has used AVR in the last month. Please share your experience, im looking to go for landing in the next few weeks.

The AVR went smoothly!On the airport we weren’t able to get our bag tags as the kiosk failed to verify the visa. The agent just checked us in and validated our expired visa. She was well aware of the AVR and confirmed we had our docs to confirm our valid status at customs.
The customs official just verified our I-797 and asked what companies we worked for. Stamped and wished us luck!

PR process completed!


We used the AVR at Pearsons airport and it went smoothly! We flew via Air Canada and the agents were well aware of the AVR visa and checked us in.
The custom official just verified our expired visas & valid I-797. He asked us about the company name and nature of the job.

Note: We checked in around 12(noon) and there was hardly any queue at the customs line! Our process was completed in less than 10 mins.


This is good news. So I have an expired H1B stamp and then I ported employers twice and so have 3 I797 approvals with me = 1st is of the original employer’s extension , 2nd by changed employer, 3rd by current employer. With this scenario, am I still eligible for AVR since I have never been out of status and maintained status consistently?

Re: the pre-boarding immigration doc check at Toronto Pearson - once that is done and you boarded, did you just land like a domestic flight at the US destination and then just picked up bags and left the US airport or was there more scrutiny? Thanks!

Hi there,
I suppose yes provided you were always on valid I-94 while in states. If you check AVR rules on the USCIS site, they just mention about valid status with an expired stamp. Although, its better to reach out to your lawyer in case of doubts since your status was changed multiple times.( We spoke to our lawyers and called the USCIS office as well to confirm around our application specifically).

Yes. Thats correct. The immigration was completed at Canada and it was just like a domestic flight.

All the best!

Note: We are not legal advisors so please do consult legal attorney on your specific case:-)


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Thanks for the info @appy22 . I checked with the company lawyer and called USCBP and they both said yes that as long as I was on a valid I-94 through a I797 I should be fine to use AVR.

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So, I completed my landing over the weekend by entering Canada via the Peace Bridge through Buffalo.
I reached the border on July 5 at around noon. At the booth, I was asked to park on the side and go in to get my CoPR signed. Due to the long weekend, it was pretty busy and it took me 2 hours to get out. In the building, after processing my application, I was asked my address where the PR card would be mailed in 8-10 weeks. Also, I was told not to get the card mailed outside Canada, which was a little surprising.
Then, I was asked for my settlement funds document and also to initial next to the answers to questions regarding previous convictions, felonies etc. (the 3 questions on the CoPR).
After the officer signed my CoPR and read my rights as a PR, I was the directed to the customs section where I gave my Accompanying Goods & GTF document and then went to the cashier for the customs receipt.
Next, I went to the Service Canada office located in Niagara and got my SIN. It took me an hour to get out with wait time included.

Coming back to the US via AVR:
I visited Niagara Falls and spent the next 3-4 hours there. I crossed over via the Rainbow bridge into the US and surprisingly at the booth, I was only asked for my passport and i-797 and was let in. I was not asked to get out of the car and the whole process took around 30 seconds.
I was really nervous regarding entering via AVR but I’m very relieved now that its done with.
Thank you everyone for all your help.

Asking for a friend :
His US VIsa expired almost 2 years back. He is planning to do soft landing next month.
Can he use AVR in this case to return to US?
or is there a condition that AVR can be only used if Visa expired in less than 12 months ago?


My H1B stamp was about 3+ years expired when I did AVR last year; AVR went fine but the US CBP officer had some doubts, he pointed out that my visa expired a while ago and asked something to another officer before letting me through - sorry I forgot the details but nothing serious. I believe (please double check!) AVR rule does not have any such requirement that the visa be expired only for a certain amount of time. But things could have changed.

Thank is great!

I have couple of questions:-

  1. Can you please share the Goods Accompanying and Goods to Follow Forms/Checklist. I got the following forms and couldn’t understand which one to use for Goods Accompanying and which one to use for Goods to Follow Forms/Checklist!

I am planning to soft land by driving and also the final move would be driving a U Haul. I will not be using the movers and packers.

  1. Did you use the AVR method to re-enter or you had a valid visa? If AVR, can you please advise how was the process and anything in particular to carry. I am planning to take passport and i797 (H1-B).

Thanks for the info.

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  1. Please check this link for GTA and GTF

Goods accompanying = BSF 186
Goods to Follow = BSF 186a

  1. Yes I used the AVR method, it was very smooth (it was so smooth that it confused me, I thought officer didnt understand that I am on H1B and she let me go in US without checking anything besides passports). The officer lady did not ask for I797s, she never asked me why was the visa expired and stuff.

The officer asked me to roll down the windows of my car, how many of you are travelling, why did you to go Canada, asked for my passports, typed something in her computer and said you are good to go. I asked her where should I go now? She smilingly said “Drive home”

  1. For the AVR I carried the I797, passports and printout from DHS website about AVR.

I had a similar situation as @akel , I had to travel for landing to Vancouver with expired VISA and valid i-94.

-For me the officer asked some basic questions and handed me a yellow paper and told me to go inside the office to get the paper work.

  • I went inside and a different officer asked very basic questions about my work, where do I live in the USA, and etc.
  • Then he stamped on a paper, stapled that to my passport and suggested to pay USD 6 to the counter
  • I paid USD 6 and was out of the building in 10 minutes.
  • The whole process was appx 15 minutes long
  • Couple of days after this, I generated my i-94 online and I can see this entry and exit dates on the travel history
  • Overall, the experience was pretty smooth and hassle-free

Regarding GTF, the officer on Canadian side did not even care to see a list which does not have any big value item. He mentioned that we don’t care so much about your personal electronics that don’t cost more than 5k-10k. We are only worried if you are bring new high-value gadgets. Personal use goods are fine. He was extremely helpful and added my car in the list (I forgot to add that) with valuation and stamped for future reference.

@RIVAL @akel
What does AVR stand for ?
When you say expired Visa & valid i94, does that mean your visa stamped on the passport had expired and you had a new I797 or something like that ?
I’m trying to think of a scenario where one can have a valid I94 inspire of an expired visa .
I thought one needed a valid Visa(stamped on PP) to re-enter the US.