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Returning Resident Visa (SB-1)

Please read the following information concerning returning resident visas very carefully before proceeding with an application and fee payment.  If, after careful review of that information, you wish to be considered for returning resident status, you should complete and submit to the AIT Immigrant Visa Unit form DS 117, together with any available documents to substantiate information given on the form. You must also pay a fee of US$180.  Please note that this fee is non-refundable and is in addition to any subsequent fees you will be required to pay as part of the visa application if you are determined to have returning resident status.

To apply, you must make an appointment.  Please contact the Immigrant Visa Unit via email visaiv-ait@state.gov, or fax: 886-2-2162-2253.  An appointment will be scheduled within 2-3 working days after we receive the request.

You should submit the forms, fees, and documents in person to the window number three of the Immigrant Visa Unit on the appointment date.  You must include in your packet the followings:

  1. A completed and signed form DS 117;
  2. Alien Registration Receipt Card (Green Card), Form I-151 or I-551; 
  3. Reentry Permit, Form I-327 (if you obtained one);
  4. All your old and new passports;
  5. Statement to explain the situation which was beyond your control;
  6. Documentation of abovementioned situation such as medical records, etc;
  7. US$180 (or NT$ equivalent) in cash.

You will be informed concerning you eligibility to apply for a returning resident visa after your DS-117 form and documents have been reviewed and a decision is reached.  A visa appointment can only be scheduled if your application results in a determination of returning resident status.  You will need to submit additional documents and fees at the time of this appointment.

Overview - About Returning Resident Visas

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 beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 the Re-entry Permit (2 years), you may be eligible and can apply at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate 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. Therefore, this involves paying both visa processing fees and medical fees.

Spouse or Child of a Member of the U.S. Armed Forces or Civilian Employee of the U.S. Government Stationed Abroad - If you are the spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or of a civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad on official orders, you may use your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551, to enter the U.S. even if it has expired. Therefore, you would not need a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, as long as you:

  • Have not abandoned your LPR status; and
  • Your spouse or parent is returning to the U.S.

 Step 1 - Qualifying 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.

Applying for a Returning Resident Visa

If you wish to apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, you should do so at AIT Taipei in advance of your intended travel (at least three months in advance, if possible) to permit sufficient time for visa processing. As part of the visa application process, an interview at AIT Taipei is required.

Required Documentation

When applying for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, you should submit the following forms and documents:

  • A completed Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117
  • Your Permanent Resident Card, Form -551
  • Your Re-entry Permit, if available

You must also submit supporting documents that show the following:

  • Dates of travel outside of the U.S. (Examples: airline tickets, passport stamps, etc.)
  • Proof of your ties to the U.S. and your intention to return (Examples: tax returns, and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the U.S.)
  • Proof that your protracted stay outside of the U.S. was for reasons beyond your control (Examples: medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. company, accompanying a U.S. citizen spouse, etc.)

A Consular Officer will review your application and supporting documents to determine whether you meet the criteria for Returning Resident (SB-1) status. If you do, you must be eligible for the immigrant visa in all other respects in order to be issued a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.

Required Fees

The following are the required fees:

  • Application for Determining Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117. Select Fees for current Department of State fees.  (US$180 as of September 12, 2014)

Additionally, if you are approved for Returning Resident (SB-1) status, the following fees will be required based on the immigrant visa processing explained below:

  • Immigrant visa application processing fee (US$205 as of September 12, 2014)
  • Medical exam and vaccination fees

Step 2 – Immigrant Visa Application and Documentation

 

 

AIT Taipei will provide you with specific instructions for the remainder of the processing for your Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa. These instructions will include:

 

 

Before your interview:

  • Instructions for your medical examination, including a list of required vaccinations

Instructions for your interview, including the following documentation to bring:

  • DS-260 (Online Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration), and bring the printout of DS-260 confirmation page to the visa interview;
  • Original passport;
  • Two photographs, meeting photo guidelines;
  • Other civil documents

If Your Application to Determine Returning Resident Status is Not Approved

If, after reviewing your Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117, and supporting documents, the Consular Officer determines that you do not meet the criteria for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa on the grounds that you have abandoned or relinquished your residence in the U.S., it may or may not be possible to obtain a nonimmigrant visa depending on whether you have established a residence abroad to which you will return. If you cannot submit convincing evidence of compelling ties abroad, you may have to apply for an immigrant visa on the same basis and under the same category by which you immigrated originally.

About International Travel and Permanent Residents

As a permanent resident, before you depart the U.S. for temporary travel abroad and then seek to return to the U.S., you should review important information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) websites. Learn about Travel Documents, including Re-Entry Permits and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, on the USCIS website. For information for permanent residents returning to the U.S. from travel abroad, review the CBP website.