Are you a permanent resident in the US and are stuck abroad due to the circumstances outside of your control? As a lawful or conditional permanent resident of the United States, you can not remain outside the US for more than a year or beyond the validity of your re-entry permit. However, if you were unable to return to the US within your authorized period due to certain unavoidable circumstances, then you may be eligible for a Returning Resident Visa, also known as the SB-1 Immigrant Visa.
Only spouses and children of members of the US Armed Forces or civilian employees of the US government stationed abroad are exempt from the one-year limitation. They can use their Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) to enter the US even if it has expired. They would not need a Returning Resident Visa as long as:
Only those who can demonstrate the following to the US Consulate can qualify for a Returning Resident Visa:
It is best to contact the US Consulate or Embassy for a Returning Resident Visa three months before when you intend to travel as this gives them sufficient time to process your application.
The following documents need to be submitted to the US Embassy or Consulate for a Returning Resident Visa:
In addition to the above-mentioned documents, you will be required to submit supporting documents demonstrating:
The Consular office will review your application with supporting documents to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements for a Returning Resident Visa.
The exact process to apply for the Returning Resident Visa will vary based on your consulate or embassy. However, you will be required to attend an immigration interview and go through a medical examination.
To your immigration interview, you must bring the following documents:
If the interview is successful, your application for a Returning Resident Visa will be approved and you will be allowed to return to the US.
However, if your application is denied because you have abandoned or relinquished your status as a permanent resident in the US, then you may have to apply again for an immigrant visa by which you originally immigrated. You can also plan to return by applying for a nonimmigrant visa if you can establish convincing ties to your residence abroad.
The SB-1 Visa has a travel capacity of 12 months, meaning that you must return to the US within a year.
As a permanent resident, you can travel outside the United States for up to 6 months without losing your Green Card. If you remain outside the US for more than a year or beyond the validity period of your Re-entry Permit, then you must apply for an SB-1 Visa to return to the US.