What Is the Returning Resident Visa?
A permanent resident (called lawful permanent resident or LPR) or conditional resident (CR) who has remained outside the United States for longer than one year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence.
A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa to an LPR who remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond his/her control.
Who Can Apply for the Returning Resident Visa?
If you are a permanent resident alien returning to the United States after being overseas less than 12 months (364 days or less), you may apply for readmission by presenting your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) to the immigration authorities at a U.S. port of entry. You must also be able to show that you have not abandoned your permanent U.S. residence.
What Are the Requirements of the Returning Resident Visa?
Permanent resident aliens, who were unable to return to the United States for reasons beyond their control within the travel validity period of the Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), or the Reentry Permit, may apply for a special immigrant Returning Resident (SB1) visa.
To qualify for Returning Resident Status, you must show:
- That you were a lawful permanent resident when you departed the United States,
- That when you departed you intended to return to the United States and have maintained this intent,
- That you are returning from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay was protracted, it was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible, and
- That you are eligible for the immigrant visa in all other respects.
How to Apply for the Returning Resident Visa?
Applying for the SB-1 visa is a shorter and less complicated process than applying for an immigrant visa from the beginning. Since you have had an immigrant visa before, you will not need to have an employee or family member issue a petition, but will only go through the US Embassy where you are currently located.
In order to have your visa processed, it is best to notify the US Embassy that you need an SB-1 visa three months before you intend to travel to the US. However, if you cannot do that, then you must apply as soon as it is possible. The steps to apply for the SB-1 visa are as follows:
- File Form DS-117, Application to Determine Returning Resident Status
- Submit Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card or Green Card which you had before you traveled outside the US.
- Submit your Re-entry Permit if you have one
- Submit supporting documents such as:
- Dates of planned travel outside the US such as your airline ticket or passport stamp
- Proof of intention to return such as employment offer, tax returns, pay slips, etc.
- Proof that you stayed outside the US for reasons beyond your control such as medical documents, etc.
Applying For Readmission At A U.S. Port Of Entry
All persons arriving at a port of entry to the United States are subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. CBP officers will conduct the Immigration, Customs and Agriculture components of the Inspections process. Additional information regarding the inspection process is located in the Code of Federal Regulations.
Under provisions of immigration law, to qualify for returning resident status, you will need to prove to the Consular Officer that you had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the United States, departed from the United States with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention, and are returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.
What Are the Returning Resident Visa Fees?
The returning resident visa fees include:
- The Form DS-117 filing fee
- The Form DS-260 processing fee
- Medical examination fees
- Other fees to obtain and/or translate supporting documents
The fees must be paid in order for your application to be valid. If you just submit the application without paying, it will not be taken into consideration by the US Embassy.
How Long Is the Returning Resident Visa Processing Time?
The SB-1 visa processing time depends on the workload of the US Embassy where you are applying from. In general however, it take 3 to 6 months for your application to be completed and for them to notify you whether you have gotten the SB-1 visa or not.
Exceptions For Military And U.S. Government Employees
If you are the spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or of a civilian employee of the U.S. government stationed abroad on official orders, you may use your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551, to enter the United States even if it has expired. Therefore, you would not need a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, as long as you:
- Have not abandoned your LPR status; and
- Your spouse or parent is returning to the United States.