A permanent resident (called “Lawful Permanent Resident” or “LPR”) or conditional resident alien who has remained outside the U.S. for more than one year or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit (Form I-327), will require a new immigrant visa to enter the U.S. and resume permanent residence. A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa (SB-1) to an LPR who remained outside the U.S. more than one year due to circumstances beyond his/her control.
When your application for returning resident status is approved, you will not receive a visa that will allow you to travel to the U.S. The approval of the returning resident application is only the first step in a two- step process. It eliminates the requirement that an immigrant visa petition be filed on your behalf with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
You need to be interviewed for both your application for returning resident status, and, at a later date, for the actual immigrant visa. An SB-1 applicant is required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa, which includes the payment of the immigrant visa fees, a medical examination, and numerous documentary requirements. If needed administrative processing might be required.
NOTE: The approval rate of initial SB-1 applications is low. The majority of applicants fail to present convincing evidence that their prolonged absence of over 365 days was caused by reasons beyond their control. If applicants have the option of filing a new petition with USCIS they should explore that route before applying for an SB-1.
Under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 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 U.S.;
- Departed from the U.S. with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
- Are returning to the U.S. after a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was prolonged, this was caused by reasons beyond your control for which you were not responsible.
Schedule an Appointment
If these criteria fit in your case, then you may visit the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov) to download required Form DS-117. Once all forms and supporting documents are ready, you may request an appointment through our application web site (https://ais.usvisa-info.com).
Please create an account on our application website (https://ais.usvisa-info.com/) then follow these steps:
- Click on “Schedule an Appointment/Pay Visa Fee”
(Note: you only need to schedule the appointment. Please do not pay any visa fee. The fee is paid at the time of your appointment inside the consular section.)
- Click on “Immigrant Visas”;
- Choose “Returning Resident” and hit the “Submit” button;
- At this point, follow the instructions to schedule an appointment.
Required Documentation for Each Applicant (at time of initial appointment):
- A completed Form DS-117, Application to Determine Returning Resident Status;
- Your Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) and/or your Re-Entry Permit (Form I-327);
- Your passport,
- $180 Fee (non-refundable)
You should also submit supporting documents that show the following:
- Proof of your ties to the U.S. and your intention to return (Examples: tax returns for the last 3 years and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the U.S.)
- Proof that your prolonged stay outside of the U.S. was for reasons beyond your control (Examples: medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. company, etc.)
A Consular Officer will review your application and supporting documents to determine whether you meet the criteria for Returning Resident (SB-1) status. If your application is approved, you will receive an appointment letter and packet with further instructions on the application process for your Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa. From the date of approval of the initial SB-1 application, you have 6 months to apply for the immigrant (SB-1) visa. An additional $205 “immigration fee” is due at the time of the second, SB-1 visa, interview appointment.
Note: All fees required by this process are non-refundable; therefore, we suggest you carefully consider whether your specific circumstance meets the requirements for this visa (see above).
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