Immigrant Visas: Returning Resident Visa

A permanent resident (called lawful permanent resident or LPR) or conditional resident (CR) who has remained outside the U.S. for longer than one year, or the validity of green card or one year whichever shorter (for conditional resident), 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 U.S. within the travel validity period of the green card (1 year) or the validity of Green Card or one year whichever is shorter (for conditional resident), the validity of the Re-entry Permit (2 years), you may be eligible and can apply at the U.S. Embassy Bangkok 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 be 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.

Qualifications 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:

  • Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the U.S.;
  • Departed from the U.S. with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
  • Are returning to the U.S. from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.

Applicants seeking to apply for Returning Resident Visa (SB-1) will need to submit their documents to the Immigrant Visa Unit in Bangkok by postal mail.

DS-117 Checklist of Necessary Supporting Documents

  • Applicants should keep a copy of all submitted documents. The Immigrant Visa Unit does not provide copying services.
Form DS-117: Completed application to determine Returning Resident Status
Form I-551 and/or Form I-327, if available: Original “green card” and/or “re-entry permit”, if available
Photocopy of applicant’s passport(s): Current and/or old passport(s) showing your identity, admission into the United States as a legal permanent resident, and the Thai  immigration stamp on your return to Thailand from the U.S.
Proof of ties to the U.S. and intent to return: U.S. tax returns and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the United States.
Evidence of stay abroad for reasons beyond the applicant’s control: Evidence that the protracted stay abroad was beyond your control.
English translations of all documents written in a foreign language.

*** Remark:  All Returning Resident Applicant must pay Returning Resident application Fee ($180) at the consular cashier on their first interview date.  This fee is non-refundable.  Applicants will be informed about their first interview date and additional details by email. ***

The documents listed above should be sent by registered mail to the Immigrant Visa Unit in Bangkok at the below address:

Immigrant Visa Unit
US Embassy, Consular Section
120-122 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Bangkok 10330 

Once your documents are received and reviewed by the Immigrant Visa Unit, applicants will be contacted about their first interview dates.  Please allow at least seven business days after submitting the documents before contacting the Immigrant Visa Unit by email to follow up on your case at: visasbkkiv@state.gov

Please note that the processing time for each case may vary upon the individual circumstances.