A permanent resident (called lawful permanent resident or LPR) or conditional resident (CR) who has remained outside the United States for longer than one year, 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. You can learn more about Returning Resident Visas on usvisas.state.gov.
You can overcome this assumption by applying for a Returning Resident (SB-1) visa. This is a two-step process. First, you must have a pre-interview to determine if you meet the qualifications for a Returning Resident. If you do, then you must also have a visa interview just like any other immigrant.
Note: If you are a Conditional Resident (CR1 or CR2) whose two-year conditional residency has expired, and you have not been granted or at least filed for permanent resident status, you do not qualify as a Returning Resident.
The consular officer will conduct a pre-interview to determine if you qualify for Returning Resident status. In order to qualify, you must show that:
- You were a Lawful Permanent Resident when you departed the United States,
- When you departed you intended to return to the U.S., and you have maintained this intent, AND
- You were prevented from returning to the United States for reasons beyond your control.
If you believe you meet all of these conditions, you can apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) visa pre-interview by contacting the Consulate at email@example.com. Returning Resident pre-interviews are normally scheduled for Thursday afternoons.
When you come for this pre-interview, you must bring all of the following:
- “Application to Determine Returning Resident Status” (form DS-117), filled out completely;
- The fee for Determining Returning Resident Status, payable in cash only, in US dollars or Moroccan dirhams to the Consulate Cashier in the waiting room;
- Your I-551 card, even if expired, or an explanation of what happened to it, including a police report if appropriate;
- Other evidence to show you have maintained your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident;
- Your current passport, and your previous passport if possible;
- Any documents that will support your claim that you were prevented from returning to the United States in a timely manner for reasons beyond your control; for example, medical reports.
A consular officer will interview you and review your evidence, and may also request additional documents or information. The consular officer will then make a recommendation to the consular supervisors. After this recommendation has been reviewed, we will contact you to tell you our decision. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.
The Visa Interview
If you qualify as a Returning Resident, the next step is to determine if you are eligible to immigrate to the United States. When we inform you that you have qualified, we will also schedule you for a visa interview during our normal interview hours. For this interview, you will need:
- A DS-260 form (filled out online through http://ceac.state.gov/iv/)
- A new medical exam (see the list of Panel Physicians);
- Various civil documents;
- The visa fee for any Other Immigrant Visa, payable to the Consulate cashier on the day of the interview.
You will not normally need to provide an Affidavit of Support, but the adjudicating officer may decide in the course of the interview to ask for one.
All fees are non-refundable.