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Immigrant Visa Section

Returning Residents (SB-1)

How to maintain resident status

A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or Conditional Resident (CR) of the United States will maintain status provided he/she maintains a bona fide domicile in the United States and does not remain outside the country for more than one year. An LPR or CR in possession of a Re-entry Permit issued by an office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States may remain outside the U.S. until the date the permit expires, which is usually two years from the date of issuance.

Residents outside the U.S. for more than one year

An LPR or CR who has remained outside the United States for more than twelve months, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, will require a new immigrant visa to reenter the United States and resume permanent residence.

A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of an immigrant visa under the special immigrant status as a returning resident to an alien who has remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond his/her control.

Important: Conditional residents of the United States who failed to file with USCIS an application to have conditional resident status removed are required to apply for a new immigrant visa under the IR-1 immedate relative visa category. They are not eligible to apply for the special immigrant status as a returning resident. The U.S. citizen spouse is required to file a new immigrant visa petition I-130 on his/her behalf with the office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/USCIS or the local office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/USCIS in Vienna, Austria.

How to file an SB-1 application

LPRs who believe that they may be eligible for returning resident status are required to make the application in person at the Immigrant Visa Unit during office hours. Applicants have to:

  • submit the completed Forms DS-117 (pdf/286kb) and DS-230 Part I (pdf/1020kb)
  • pay a nonrefundable application fee of $ 180 at the Consular Section; and
  • furnish evidence to show that
  1. they had the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of their departure from the United States;
  2. they left the U.S. with the intention of returning, have not abandoned this intention, and are returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad; and
  3. if their stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond their control for which they are not responsible.

Examples of such evidence include, but are not limited to, documentation regarding their status in the U.S. and dates of travel, proof that they have continued to file U.S. tax returns and maintained economic or social ties to the United States, and evidence that the protracted stay was due to circumstances beyond their control.

If the SB-1 application is approved, the applicant will receive further instructions on how to proceed with the processing. If the application is unsuccessful, the applicant will have to qualify for immigration under one of the general categories in order to receive a new immigrant visa.

Being granted returning resident status eliminates the requirement that an immigrant visa petition be filed on the individual's behalf with the USCIS. Nevertheless, the applicant is required to establish his/her eligibility for an immigrant visa, obtain a medical exam and pay the immigrant visa processing fee of $ 205 and the medical fee.

Note: LPRs are advised to file an application for returning resident status only if they believe that they may qualify. The fee of $ 275 is nonrefundable; it will not be returned if the application is unsuccessful.

An alien is considered to have abandoned his Permanent Resident Status if he/she submits his/her Alien Registration Card (Green Card) with Form I-407, Abandonment by Alien of Status as Lawful Permanent Resident, to USCIS abroad or if he/she remains outside the U.S. for more than 364 days and doesn’t qualify for the SB-1 returning resident status.

Legal Permanent Resident aliens returning to the United States after being overseas less than 364 consecutive days, may apply for readmission by presenting a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) to the immigration authorities at the Port of Entry. They must also be able to show that they have not abandoned their permanent U.S. residence.

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