Immigrant visa applicants are now required to submit the required documents in advance of their appointment dates. Failing to provide a complete document package in advance will delay visa processing.
If you do not provide a complete document package in advance of your appointment, your interview may be cancelled .
If you are a Legal Permanent Resident and were unable to return to the U.S. for more than one year due to reasons beyond your control, you may apply for Returning Resident status. Please follow the instructions below to determine your qualification. If you cannot meet the requirements to qualify for Returning Resident status, please refer to the USCIS website on information about available immigration categories.
Returning Resident (SB-1) Visa
A permanent resident (lawful permanent resident or LPR) who has remained outside the U.S. for longer than one year, or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit, 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 to an LPR who remained outside the U.S. due to circumstances beyond his/her control. If you are an LPR unable to return to the U.S. within the travel validity period of the green card (1 year) or the validity of the re-entry permit (2 years), you may be eligible and can apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.
Qualifying for Returning Resident Status
Under provisions of immigration law, to qualify for returning resident status, you will need to prove to the Consular Officer that you:
• Departed from the U.S. with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
• Are returning to the U.S. 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.
Applying for Returning Resident Status
If you wish to apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, you need the following forms and documents:
- A completed Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117(PDF 24 KB)
- Your original Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551
- Your Re-entry Permit (if applicable)
You also need supporting documents that show the following:
- Dates of travel outside of the U.S. (Examples: airline tickets, passport stamps, etc.)
- Proof of your ties to the U.S. and your intention to return (Examples: tax returns, and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the U.S.)
- Proof that your protracted stay outside of the U.S. was for reasons beyond your control (e.g. medical incapacitation)
After we have reviewed the documents, we will schedule an interview with a Consular Officer to determine whether you meet the criteria for Returning Resident (SB-1) status. If you do, you must be eligible for the immigrant visa in all other respects in order to be issued a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.
You will need to be interviewed twice: your application for returning resident status, and if approved, also for the immigrant visa. An SB-1 applicant is required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and have a medical examination.
Therefore, this involves paying the Returning Resident application fee and, if approved, the immigrant visa processing fee, as well as the medical fees.
Please note that the Returning Resident application fee is not refundable if your application is refused!
If your Application to Determine Returning Resident Status is Not Approved?
If the Consular Officer determines that you do not meet the criteria for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa on the grounds that you have abandoned or relinquished your residence in the U.S., then you would need to obtain a new immigrant visa. You may also qualify for a non-immigrant visa, though usually applicants must show strong ties to their residence outside the U.S. to qualify, making this difficult to obtain immediately after an SB-1 application is denied.