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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 greencard 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 Tokyo or Naha 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.