Permanent resident aliens who remain outside the United States longer than one year without prior authorization for a longer stay lose their status as residents. They require a visa to return to the United States. One option may be a returning resident immigrant (SB-1) visa. To qualify for such status aliens must show:
- That they were lawful permanent residents when they departed the United States.
- That when they departed they intended to return to the United States and have maintained this intent.
- That they are returning from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay was protracted, that it was caused by reasons beyond their control and for which they were not responsible.
- That they are eligible for the immigrant visa in all other respects.
Conditional Permanent Residents are not eligible to apply for Returning Resident status, even when the circumstances described above may apply. Usually, the petitioner must file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and initiate a new immigrant visa process for the alien.
How do I apply for a Returning Resident status?
Applicants who wish to apply for a Returning Resident status should schedule an appointment via email firstname.lastname@example.org and come to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius well in advance of their intended travel (at least three months) to permit sufficient time for visa processing.
Those applying for Returning Resident status should obtain and provide the following documents to the consular officer at the time of their appointment:
- Form DS-117, Application to Determine Returning Resident Status;
- Photo ID (such as a passport, driving license, etc.);
- Evidence showing how they acquired U.S. legal permanent resident status (a copy of an immigrant visa, USCIS admission stamp, an adjustment of status approval notice, etc.);
- Evidence showing the date when they last departed from the United States (e-tickets, boarding passes, etc.);
- Evidence showing prior continuous residence in the United States (U.S. employment records, proof of children’s enrollment in a U.S. school, past U.S. income tax returns, property ownership in the United States, etc.);
- Evidence showing that they had a definite reason for a temporary travel abroad;
- Evidence showing that the extended stay abroad was for reasons beyond their control;
- Original documents and English translations if the originals are in a language other than English;
- A non-refundable application fee of 180 USD.This fee is payable at the time of the appointment to the Consular Section in U.S. dollars or the equivalent in Lithuanian currency, in cash or by credit card.
What happens next?
When an Application to Determine Returning Resident Status is approved, the applicant will be instructed to prepare documents for their immigrant visa application, and will need to follow the same guidance as other immigrant visa applicants with locally filled and approved petitions.
Note! Applicants for Returning Resident status should initiate the process by applying well in advance of their intended travel (at least three months beforehand) to allow sufficient time for visa processing.
What if the Consular Officer establishes that I do not qualify for a returning resident status?
If your application for Returning Resident status is refused, you may still apply for admittance into the United States under a (employment-based or family-based) new immigrant visa petition, or might be able to qualify for non-immigrant status if you have established a permanent residence outside the United States to which you intend to return after a temporary stay in the United States.