This Legal Guide summarizes the process of the Returning Resident Visa (SB-1) for the readers.
The Common Scenario
If you are a green card holder or a conditional resident and have stayed outside of the United States for more than a year or more than your Ren-entry Permit duration, the authorities may deny your entry into the United States at the U.S. border.
You may have forgotten to renew your green card, and this may have delayed your return to the U.S.; you may have simply not have returned on time; or, a personal or family issue may have prevented you from returning the U.S. on time.
Regardless of the reason you are subject to the same law and have to obtain a SB-1 visa by applying at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
What does the Law say?
To maintain your permanent residency the law requires you to remain in the United States for at least 6 months of the year. This is the rule of thumb in most cases. However, in certain situations and with prior approval you may stay outside of the country longer than the usual time.
If your stay is prolonged and you have passed the time permitted to remain outside of the U.S. you should be prepared to show that:
A. Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the United States;
B. Departed from the United States with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and,
C. Are returning to the United States 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.
You must prove all of the above elements with supporting documents and legal arguments. It is on you to show that your stay was prolonged for reasons beyond your control and you had the intention to return to the U.S. on time.
This requires more than the bare minimum statement that you had the intention to return or that your stay was prolonged because of reasons beyond your control. Only a licensed U.S. Immigration Attorney can adequately prepare your legal arguments and properly prepare you for the Interview day.
Consular Processing and the Interview
Once your documents and legal arguments are prepared, you should fill out the DS-117 form and schedule an interview at your nearest Consular Section or U.S. Embassy.
Every Consular Post has its own country-specific instructions that should be followed. You have to obtain an interview date, make the necessary payment and appear at your interview in the manner in which the Consular Post requires.
At your interview, you should be proactive and lead the talk. Be respectful to the Consular Officer and respond to all of his/ her questions completely and with honesty. Prior adequate preparation is key here. As a practical tip, I usually provide my clients an extra set of documents. This allows them to quickly refer the Consular Officer to any document during the interview. There is no guarantee that your interview lasts very long and you don't want to lose any chance.
Travel Ban and Applicants from from North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Venezuela
Since June 26, 2018, and with the final approval of the Travel Ban by the U.S. Supreme Court, all applicants from North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Venezuela who are affected by the "Travel Ban" MUST submit a Travel Ban Waiver Request as part of their application and form 5335.
If you are from these countries contact us to obtain a Travel Ban Waiver for your case.
What happens After the Interview?
If you are not denied on the spot, two things can happen:
1- You are told that you will be contacted by the Embassy in the future once a decision is made on your case. In this case, you would have to wait until a decision is made on your case. We can assist you in communication with the USCIS and the Embassy to follow up on your case. This process can take up to 3 months.
2- Your application is approved.
If your application is approved, you will be given an instruction sheet by the embassy. You should follow the instructions, fill out the required forms and return to the Embassy as instructed. If you are denied, it is best to seek other ways to obtain your immigrant visa. A sample instruction sheet can be found on my instagram profile @bohloullaw.
DISCLAIMER: This Guide is prepared only for informational purposes and is not intended to be Legal Advice. Every case is different and you should seek advice of a U.S. Immigration Attorney to resolve your immigration issue(s). Also, this Guide does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and the writer. Such relationship is only created through a written agreement. You can contact me through my profile contact section for any immigration issue you have. The writer is licensed in Maryland and his practice is limited to Immigration Law.
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