Once you get your Green Card, you are officially a U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR). This is a crucial step for your immigration history, that can lead to U.S. citizenship after an eligible period of time.

As a U.S. LPR or citizen, you are allowed to travel abroad. However, you are expected to return in the U.S. within one year. Otherwise, you will lose your permanent status.

Nevertheless, if this happens, you can still re-enter the U.S.

If you already know that you are going to spend more than one year outside the country, you need to apply for a Re-entry Permit. This will be valid for two years. If you are still unable to go back after this time, you must apply for an SB-1 Visa.

How can IAS help with your Returning Resident Visa?

If you wish to re-enter the U.S. as a Returning Resident, you must provide sufficient evidence of the reasons for your absence. If you fail to prove why you spent more than two years abroad, the USCIS will deny your permit.

Our team of immigration attorneys can help you prepare adequate documentation to support your case. With our service, you will be able to submit a successful portfolio of documents, maximizing your chances to get your visa.

Based on your circumstances, we can also evaluate the best strategy for you to re-enter the U.S. and obtain your status as an LPR or citizen again.

Get in touch today with our team of IAS’ immigration lawyers. You can call us on +1844 290 6312.


What is the SB-1 Visa?

The SB1 Visa is suitable for those who have previously held a U.S. Green Card. After spending more than two years outside the country, you lose your permanent resident status. However, if this was due to reasons beyond your control or knowledge, you can apply for an SB-1 Visa.

The immigration law admits as valid reasons that prevented you from returning to the U.S. the following:

  • A sudden illness;
  • You were not able to get permission to leave the country where you were staying before;
  • A pregnancy where the doctor did not advise traveling.

Why do I need an SB1 Returning Resident Visa?

By spending more than two years outside the U.S., you are implicitly renouncing your Green Card status. In other words, if you try to re-enter the country without getting an SB-1 Visa, the officials at the U.S. port of entry will not let you pass.

If you voluntarily gave up your Permanent Residence Card, but you still wish to enter the U.S. temporarily, you can apply for a non-immigrant visa. For example, you can get a B2 Visa for tourists and enjoy some time in the country.

What are the requirements for the Returning Resident Visa?

Going back to the U.S. after two years of absence does not automatically make you qualify for an SB-1 Visa. To get your status as a Returning Resident, you must fulfill additional conditions, such as:

  • You held a Green Card before your departure from the U.S.;
  • You can prove your intention to re-enter the U.S. permanently;
  • The reasons why you did not go back before were beyond your control;
  • If you held an immigrant visa before your departure, you still meet the requirements to maintain your previous status.

Who does not need a Resident Returning Visa?

As a general rule, all the U.S. permanent residents who have been abroad for more than two years need to apply for a Resident Returning Visa. However, there are specific categories of LPRs who are not required to submit their petition. These are:

  • Civilian employees of the U.S. government who live abroad;
  • Spouse and dependents of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

If you believe that you had been withheld to go back to the U.S. under exceptional circumstances, you must consult your dedicated lawyer. He or she will advise you on how to proceed based on your situation.

How to apply for the Resident Returning Visa?

Since you have held an immigrant visa or LPR status before, you do not have to petition for your entry in the U.S. for a second time. To get your SB1 Visa, you can directly go through the U.S. Embassy of the country where you are currently residing while waiting to go back.

It is usually recommended to submit your request for an SB-1 Visa at least three months before the date you intend to travel to the U.S.

The first step is to file a Form DS-117, that is the Application to Determine Returning Resident Status. Do not forget to attach the Form I-551 and Form DS-260 that you first used to get your Green Card status or Permanent Resident Card.

Based on your circumstances, the USCIS may ask you to conduct a medical examination with a licensed doctor. You are not usually required to attend an interview. However, you may still need to present further documents about your situation.

What is the documents checklist for the SB1 Returning Resident Visa?

To support your application, you should submit the following evidence of your previous Green Card status:

  • Evidence of your last trip outside the U.S. (such as airline tickets or stamps on your passport);
  • Proof of your permanent status in the U.S. and your willingness to go back permanently. This includes tax returns, payslips, correspondence with your family still living in the country;
  • Valid evidence of the reasons why you were not able to re-enter the country before.

How long is the SB-1 Visa processing time?

One of the benefits of applying for this permit is that you do not have to undergo the same petitioning procedure once again. In other words, the SB1 Visa processing and waiting time are usually shorter than those of other petitions.

Generally, it takes between 3 to 6 months for your application to be reviewed and processed by the UCSIS.

Can IAS help me re-enter the U.S. as a Returning Resident?

Here at IAS, our team of professional immigration attorneys has already helped many U.S. citizens going back home. We offer a bespoke service to guide you through the SB1 Visa application process.

With our services, you can benefit from:

  • Professional and complete review of your situation;
  • Assessment of your eligibility for a Returning Resident Visa;
  • Help with the selection of adequate documentation to support your case;
  • Liaison with the USCIS.

Use our online inquiry form or call us today on +1844 290 6312 to learn more about our immigration advice services.

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