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SB-1 Returning Resident Visa Application Instructions

  • Returning Resident Visa Application Guide
  • SB-1 Immigrant Visa Application Guide
  • Returning Resident Application Guide
Download information package with instructions to access and file returning resident visa SB-1 immigration application forms.


Returning Resident Visa

United States Returning Resident (SB-1) Immigrant Visa for Eligible Green Card Holders Who Remained Outside the U.S. for Extended Time

Format: Instant Download

Overview of the Application Process for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa for Green Card Holders:

  Procedure Name: SB-1 Returning Resident Visa Application for U.S. Green Card Holders, application to determine returning resident status form DS-117. The returning resident immigrant visa is also called a Returning Resident Permit or Returning Resident Status.
  Purpose: The Returning Resident SB-1 Immigrant Visa allows green card holders who remained outside of the United States for extended time of 1 year or more, to obtain and immigrant visa to return to the U.S. and to maintain their legal permanent resident status (green card status) valid. In general, permanent residents who have remained outside of the U.S. for more than one year, or have stayed beyond the validity period of their re-entry permit (generally two years maximum) are considered out of status and can not reenter the United States until they obtain a new green card or visa. However some green card holders under special circumstances are eligible to apply for a special returning resident immigrant visa keeping their resident status valid for reentry into the United States.
  Eligible Applicants: U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Card Holders (Green Card holders) or Conditional Residents (also Green Card holders) who departed the U.S. with the intention to return and have not abandoned this intention, however have been physically present outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time due to circumstances beyond their control, and wish to return to the United States to resume permanent residence (examples: medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. company, accompanying a U.S. citizen spouse, emergencies), and who are eligible for an immigrant visa. Note: Conditional Residents who fail to file an application to have conditional resident status removed are required to apply for a new immigrant visa and are not eligible to apply for special immigrant status as a returning resident.
  Requirements: SB-1 immigrant visa requirements include filing application form DS-117. Returning Resident Immigrant Visa applicants are required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa, have a medical examination and pay visa processing fees. Provide supporting documents including dates of travel out of the U.S. and proof of U.S. ties (examples of ties may be compliance with U.S. tax law, ownership of property or assets in the U.S., maintenance of U.S. licenses, memberships, or other evidence). Order this information package to learn about returning resident visa requirements and issuance.
  Exceptions: 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 Resident Card (Green Card) to return to the U.S. even if your green card has expired. Green card holders in this situation do not need a Returning Resident immigrant visa, as long as they have not abandoned U.S. resident status; and the spouse or parent in the U.S. Armed Forces or Civilian employee under official orders is returning to the U.S.
  Where to Apply: The application for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa may be filed at the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad where you are located. A consular officer will take about 2 months to review your application. The returning resident visa application will take about 3 months to be process. If the returning resident visa is approved then the applicant will need to apply for an immigrant visa within 6 months from the returning resident visa approval date. Order this guide to learn about the application process and how to start your returning resident visa application.
  Travel Warning: If you have been abroad for extended period of time of one year or more without a reentry permit or with an expired reentry permit due to circumstances beyond your control, then it is important to apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) visa before returning. Avoid being considered inadmissible, out of status, having your resident immigration status removed and losing your green card. Order this guide to learn how to apply for an SB-1 Visa abroad before returning to the U.S..
ok How to Apply: Order and download this information guide online now to learn how to apply for a United States Returning Resident Immigrant Visa (SB-1) in order to be able to return and being considered admissible to the United States.

Learn how to stay in compliance with U.S. immigration laws. Keep your U.S. resident status as green card holder valid. It is very important to take into consideration that an immigrant visa, green card or US Permanent Resident Card, is only given to immigrants who live, or are planning to live, permanently in the United States. Green cards are not supposed to be granted to people who want to live abroad and just come to the U.S. temporarily. If you are a green card hold and have been abroad for a year or more without a reentry permit, for reasons beyond your control, then you should apply for a returning resident visa before coming back to the United States.

Travel Abroad as a Green Card Holder

Important: You may lose your green card if stay out of the U.S. for 1 year or more without a Reentry Permit, or if you stay abroad beyond the validity time of your reentry permit. According to U.S. Immigration laws if a green card holder stays abroad for one year or more then he will be considered out of status and his green card or resident card can be cancelled. Even if you have a valid non-expired green card you may be considered out of status if an immigration officer suspects you abandoned your residence in the United States and moved abroad. Your travel out of the U.S. must be temporary and you must be able to prove that you did not intend to abandon your Legal Permanent Residence.

As a green card holder you may travel abroad multiple times and re-enter the US, as long as you do not intend to stay abroad for 1 year or more. However, if you stay abroad for more than 6 months this may already cause suspicious of your intent to abandon your U.S. residency. If a green card holder stay outside of the U.S. for 1 year or more, or if an immigration officer believes that a green card holder is living out of the U.S. permanently then the green card holder may be found inadmissible and denied reentry in the U.S.

Asylum applicants, asylees, and lawful permanent residents who obtained their resident status based on their asylum status are subject to special rules with regard to traveling abroad.


There are exceptions for people temporarily living abroad because they or their immediate relatives work with the United States armed forces abroad, or are civilian employees of the U.S. Government stationed out of the country due to official orders. In those type of cases, the spouse or child of the government or armed forces employee must not have relinquished residence, and be preceding or accompanying the member or employee, or be following to join the member or employee in the USA within a few months of his return to the country.

Reentry Permit Application

If a U.S. resident holding a green card needs to be out of the country for a long period of time, it is recommended to apply for a re-entry permit, also called Travel Document, before leaving the U.S., to avoid having the immigration status as a resident cancelled.

In the case of people who stayed abroad for 12 months or more, or stay abroad after the validity time of their reentry permit, for reasons beyond their control, then there is a solution to avoid losing their green card or resident status. Immigration laws establish that if you were unable to return to the U.S. on time due to reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible, then you may qualify for a Returning Resident Visa SB-1.

Temporary Extension of Stay Abroad for Reasons beyond Control

Some green Card holders travel outside of the U.S. temporarily with the intention to travel for short time, but due to personal, business or employment reasons they need to stay abroad for longer time. Since their resident status will not be valid indefinitely, if their stay abroad took at least 12 months or more, then they are required to apply for a returning resident visa in order to come back to the U.S. Some of the examples of valid reasons are medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. company, accompanying a U.S. citizen spouse, family emergency, accident abroad, country emergency situations, or other reasons beyond the green card control.

Application for a Returning Resident Visa after Staying Outside of the U.S. with a Green Card during Extended Travel Time due to Reasons beyond your Control

Returning Resident Visa SB-1

Order this guide to download the application guide with instructions for the SB-1 Visa. One of the advantages of filing for a returning resident visa, instead of just starting a complete new green card application, is that it eliminates the requirement of an immigrant visa petition, instead the applicant just have to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and have a medical examination. The application process for a returning resident visa is usually done at the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and it usually lasts about three months.

Some of the requirements to qualify for a returning resident visa are:

  1. Have had a lawful permanent resident status when departing from the United States.
  2. Have departed the United States with the intention to return, and have not abandoned this intention.
  3. Are returning to the United States from a temporary travel abroad. If the stay abroad was delayed, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.

This page can be found at: https://www.immigrationunitedstates.org/products/returning-resident-visa.html

 What to Do if the Application to Determine Returning Resident Status is Not Approved

If the Consular Officer reviews your application to Determine Returning Resident Status including supporting documents, and 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 it may or may not be possible to obtain a nonimmigrant visitor visa depending on whether you have established a residence abroad to which you will return. If you cannot submit convincing evidence of ties abroad, then if you are still eligible you may be able to pply for an immigrant visa on the same basis and under the same category by which you immigrated originally, for example apply for a green card through marriage, green card through relatives, green card investment, or other type of green card application.

How to Apply for a Returning Resident Visa SB-1?

Order this immigration guide to learn how to apply for a returning resident visa, how to obtain immigration application forms, instructions, and more information about how to live temporarily abroad without losing a U.S. resident status.  It is very important to take into consideration that to apply for a reentry permit you need to be physically present inside the United States. You can not obtain a re-entry permit abroad. US embassies or consulates don't issue reentry permits. Reentry permits are only available for green card holders with the intention to go back to live in the U.S. before the expiration of their reentry permit.

FAQ Frequently Asked Questions answered and application information about returning resident visa and travel documents included in this immigration guide:

  • I am a Green Card Holder and need to travel abroad. For how long can I travel outside of the U.S. and still keep my permanent resident status valid?
  • What is a Reentry Permit?
  • For how long is a Reentry Permit valid?
  • How to apply for a Reentry Permit? What form to submit when applying for a reentry permit?
  • How do I change the registered address on my green card?
  • How to change my notification address for pending applications with the USCIS?
  • What is the biometrics and fingerprint requirement for a reentry permit?
  • Can I file my Reentry Permit application from outside of the U.S.? Can I submit my biometrics while I am outside of the U.S.?
  • Can I travel outside of the United States while my Reentry Permit application is still pending approval?
  • Can I renew my expiring Reentry Permit, or can apply for a new one?
  • What would happen if I do not apply for a Reentry Permit before leaving the United States during an extended period of time?
  • How to apply for an SB-1 returning visa for green card holders coming back to the U.S.?
  • How to prove that I intend to comeback to live in the U.S.?
  • Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes while living temporarily abroad
  • Reentry Permit application processing time 
  • Contact information and list of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad
  • USCIS contact information and forms
  • Helpful immigration related information
  • Reentry Permit Application forms and instructions

Green Card and Returning Resident Visa Application Related Forms

Order this Information Package to learn how to access and how to apply using the following application forms related to Green Cards and to the Returning Resident Visa for U.S. Green Card Holders:

  • Application Form to Determine Returning Resident Status (SB-1 Visa)
  • Instructions for Application Form to Determine Returning Resident Status (SB-1 Visa)
  • Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Part I and Part II
  • Form DS-230 application processing and security surcharge fees
  • Application Form for Travel Document (Reentry permit)
  • Instructions for Application Form for Travel Document (Reentry Permit)
  • e-Notification Form for Application/Petition Acceptance
  • Change of Address Form for Green Card holders
  • Online Change of Address Form for Green Card holders
  • Application Form for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
  • Forms Instructions

Order this Information Guide to learn more about the application process for a Returning Resident Visa and to have access to Answers to Frequently Asked Immigration Questions including application information and instructions for returning resident visa immigration forms.

Other Details

Instructions to start reentry application and to access reentry permit application forms online.

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