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  • Writer's pictureB&G

What is a Returning Resident Visa (SB-1)?

As a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or Conditional Resident (CR), you are required to spend time in the U.S. every year. However, there may be times when it is impossible to do so, like if you get a one-year job assignment abroad or have to return to your home country to care for an ailing relative. It is always advised that a lawful permanent resident speak with an attorney ahead of any long trips outside the U.S. 


However, if an LPR or CR  has remained outside the United States for more than one (1) year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, the individual may require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence. To that end, a specific provision exists that allows for LPRs who remained outside of the U.S. due to circumstances beyond his/her control to apply for an SB-1 visa, also referred to as a Returning Resident Special Immigrant visa.  


The SB-1 visa allows the individual to return to the U.S. and then apply for a new green card. To qualify for an SB-1 visa, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that s/he had LPR status at the time of departure, that s/he departed from the U.S. with intention of returning, and that s/he is returning to the U.S. within two (2) years of the departure (or, if the temporary stay abroad is longer than 2 years, only if the reason for the extension was beyond his/her control). The applicant must also provide evidence that s/he is not barred from returning to the U.S. under immigration laws. If and when the SB-1 visa application is approved, the applicant’s permanent resident status is revived and there is no need to proceed with an immigrant visa application.


It is important to note that the SB-1 visa process can be lengthy, and it is best to start the application process well before the intended date of return to the U.S. Furthermore, just like any other immigration benefit, approval of the SB-1 visa application is at the discretion of the U.S. government. B&G advises clients to seek help from an immigration lawyer to help navigate the process and ensure that all the required documentation is in order.


If you have any questions about the Returning Resident Visa or any other inbound U.S. immigration matters, please do not hesitate to contact Blaker & Granet LLP.


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