If you are a Green Card holder and plan to travel outside the United States for 1 year or more, it is important to apply for a re-entry permit before you leave the United States.
If you have been outside the United States for 1 year or more and have not applied for a re-entry permit prior to departure, you may be deemed to have renounced permanent resident status. In this case, you may be referred to an immigration judge to decide if you renounced your status. If you are outside the US in this situation, contact the US Consulate overseas before returning to the US and ask if you are eligible to apply for a resident visa for the returning resident.
An SB-1 visa application can be submitted to the nearest US consulate in the country where the green card holder is located. This type of return visa can take several months to process. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate is required, as well as certain forms and requirements.
Exception for the spouse or child of a member of the US military or a US government civil servant stationed overseas
A spouse or child of a US military or US government civil servant who is overseas on an official order can use their Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) to enter the United States, even if the Green Card has expired. Consequently, you will not need a Returning Resident Immigrant Visa (SB-1) unless you renounced your LPR status; and your spouse or parent (a member of the US military or a US government civil servant based overseas) returns to the US.
To apply for an SB-1 visa, foreigners must show that:
- They were legal permanent residents when leaving the United States.
- When they left, they intended to return to the United States, and they kept that intention.
- That they are returning from a temporary visit abroad, and if the stay was extended, this was due to reasons beyond their control, for which they were not responsible.
- That they are eligible for an immigrant visa in all other respects.
The reasons for your long stay may be:
- For family reasons
- Accident abroad
You may be required to provide evidence of your delay, for example:
- A doctor’s note explaining the circumstances.
- US Ambassador providing information on the circumstances of the country and why you were unable to leave.
- Your mortgage or rent in the USA.
- Other evidence that you tried to return but failed.
- Proof that your stay was temporary and you never intended to give up your US residency.
- Tax returns filed as a U.S. resident.
- A letter from an employer in the United States waiting for you to work when you re-enter.
The first step to applying for an SB-1 visa is to contact the nearest US consulate in the country where you are located. It is recommended that you begin the application process at least three months in advance of your desired travel date in order to return to the United States.