If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident and you have been outside the United States over one year (or beyond the validity of your re-entry permit) for reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible for a Returning Resident (SB-1) Visa. You can learn more about Returning Resident Visas on the Department of State website.
Please note that if you were originally admitted to the United States in conditional status, you cannot qualify for SB-1 returning resident status if your two-year Green Card has already expired and you have not taken the appropriate timely steps to have your conditional status lifted before the card expired. In this case, you must have a new petition filed on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and start the entire immigrant visa process all over again.
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). SB-1 visa applicants must come in person to the U.S. Embassy to be interviewed two different times. The first interview includes a review of the application to determine if the applicant qualifies for returning resident status. If the application for returning resident status is approved, then a second interview with a consular officer will be conducted to ensure the SB-1 applicant meets the documentary and eligibility requirement for an immigrant visa. This includes presenting all civil documents required for an immigrant visa and obtaining a medical examination.
Qualifications for Returning Resident Status
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 extended, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.
How to Apply
Applicants seeking to apply for Returning Resident Visa (SB-1) need to submit copies of these documents to the Immigrant Visa Unit in Bangkok by email at firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Completed Form DS-117 Application to Determine Returning Resident Status
- Your USCIS document (I-551 or I-327)
- Your passport
Once your documents are received and reviewed by the Immigrant Visa Unit, applicants will be contacted via email with instructions about scheduling an appointment to interview with a consular officer. At that time your DS-117 and supporting documents will be reviewed. 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.
All Returning Resident Applicants must pay an application fee of $180.00 to the consular cashier on their first interview date. U.S. Embassy accepts payment using U.S. Dollars or Thai Baht in cash, or the following credit cards in U.S. Dollars: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Payment of the filing fee is not refundable and does not guarantee that the application will be approved. If your application for returning resident status is approved, you will be required to pay an additional fee of $205.00 when you return for your second interview for your immigrant visa. Instructions for the immigrant visa application will be provided to you after your first interview.
The processing time for each case may vary upon the individual circumstances.