Qualifying and Applying for a Returning Resident Immigrant Visa

If you are a lawful permanent resident or a conditional US Green Card holder who has been absent from the United States for more one year or over the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, you will be required a new visa in order for you to be readmitted to the US and resume your lawful permanent resident status.

New York City, USA

A Returning Resident Special Immigrant visa will be issued to you if you are a lawful permanent resident who is forced to stay outside the United States by reasons of conditions beyond your control.

You can file your application for a Returning Resident Immigrant Visa (SB-1) at any US Embassy or Consulate that you find more convenient. If you remain outside the United States for over the validity period of your Green Card or re-entry permit, generally a Petition is required to be filed on your behalf with a proper USCIS center or Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However if you timely filed your application for a Returning Resident visa, such petition that the law requires to be filed on your behalf, will no longer be needed.

You do not need a Returning Resident  Immigrant visa if you are the spouse or the child of a member of the US Armed Forces or of a US Government employee assigned abroad for some official functions. In this illustration, you may use your current Permanent Resident Card (PRC) to return to the United States provided that you have not abandoned your lawful permanent resident status, and your spouse or parent is going back to the US.

As an applicant for SB-1 visa, it is necessary that you establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and undergo the indispensable medical examination. With the numbers of procedures involved in the process, you should communicate in advance with your nearest US Embassy or Consulate to allow some time for the processing of your visa. This is one of the type of visas that requires an interview and a medical exam.

The following documents, forms, evidence, and information are needed in applying for a Returning Resident Immigrant visa (SB-1):

  • properly and completely filled up Form DS-117
  • your Permanent Resident Card, known also as Green Card
  • your re-entry permit if any
  • evidence that the reason for staying abroad is beyond your control
  • information on the dates of your travel outside the US
  • intent to return
  • proof of ties to the United States

To qualify for a Returning Resident Immigrant visa, you need to convince the Consular Officer during an interview that:

  • at the time you left the United States, you have a Lawful Permanent Resident status
  • you have not abandoned your residence when you left the US because you have the intention of returning
  • that you remain outside the US for a temporary visit, and your prolonged stay was due to a circumstance you are not responsible of and is beyond your control

Granted that you meet all of the criteria for a Returning Resident visa, you must prove to the Consulate Officer that you are eligible for an immigrant visa in order to obtain a Returning Resident Immigrant visa.

If you are a lawful permanent resident who is needing a legal advice on an immigration matter, you may fill up the form on the right. We are more than willing to assist you.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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