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. This webpage is about Returning Resident Visas. If you are an LPR unable to return to the United States 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 at the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate, or office providing consular services for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.
If your application for returning resident status is approved, this eliminates the requirement that an immigrant visa petition is filed on your behalf with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You will need to be interviewed for both your application for returning resident status and usually later 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 both visa processing fees and medical fees.
Spouse or Child of a Member of the U.S. Armed Forces or Civilian Employee of the U.S. Government Stationed Abroad – 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:
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:
For more information about SB visas, visit Travel.State.gov.
Be sure to view local information below to determine fees and payment process and additional requirements.
If you wish to apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, you should contact the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate, or office providing consular services in advance of your intended travel (at least three months in advance, if possible) to permit sufficient time for visa processing. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. embassy, consulate, or office providing consular services is required. Review country-specific instructions and information by reviewing the U.S. embassy, consulate, or office providing consular services website where you will apply.
When applying for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, you should submit the following forms and documents to the U.S. embassy, consulate, or office providing consular services where you will apply:
You must also submit supporting documents that show the following:
A consular officer will review your application and supporting documents 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.
The following are the required fees:
Additionally, if you are approved for Returning Resident (SB-1) status, the following fees will be required based on the immigrant visa processing explained below:
The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will provide you with specific instructions for the remainder of the processing for your Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa. While exact instructions may vary by embassy or consulate, these instructions will include:
Before your interview:
Instructions for your interview, including the following documentation to bring:
Please read the information in this section carefully. It contains location-specific information that you will need to know when applying for your Visa.
Select the country or area where you will apply for your visa:
You can check the status of your visa application on ceac.state.gov.
Some visa applications may require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case.