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If you are a lawful permanent resident (i.e. green card holder) or conditional resident (i.e. conditional green card or 2-year green card) who has remained outside the United States for a year or more, or beyond the expiration date of your re-entry permit, you will need to apply for a returning resident visa (i.e. SB-1 visa) before returning to the U.S. To be eligible for a returning resident visa, you satisfy the consular officer that:

  • You were a lawful permanent resident (i.e. green card holder) at the time you left the U.S.;
  • You intended to return to the U.S. when you departed and never abandoned such intention; and
  • You are returning to the U.S. from a temporary trip overseas and that you remained outside the U.S. for more than a year due to circumstances beyond your control.

Applying for a returning resident visa (i.e. SB-1 visa) is a multiple step process. Each U.S. Embassy or Consulate has its own instructions for processing SB-1 visas. You will be required to submit forms and supporting evidence as well as attend an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to determine if you qualify for SB-1 status. If the consular official determines you qualify for SB-1 status, you must establish you are eligible to receive an immigrant visa in all other respects in order to be issued a returning resident visa.

It is your burden to establish you qualify for a returning resident visa. Our team of experienced immigration attorneys can guide you through the process from making sure you adhere to the country-specific instructions and gather relevant documentation to show your intentions to return to the United States and that your protracted stay outside the United States was due to circumstances beyond your control.


Not sure which option is right for you? Request a confidential consultation today.