Returning Resident: SB-1 Visa


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U.S. immigration law assumes that beneficiaries of Immigrant Visas will live permanently in the United States. Immigrants who depart the United States with the intention of returning and have not abandoned that intention, but have stayed out of the United States for more than twelve months due to circumstances beyond their control, require a new IV to return to live in the United States. If you have lapsed immigrant status, you may be eligible for status as a returning resident or you may seek to be the beneficiary of a new immigrant visa petition.

The burden of proof to show evidence of continuing U.S. ties is on the applicant. Any legal permanent resident who expects to remain out of the United States for an extended period should obtain a re-entry permit from CIS by filing Form I-131 by mail with the CIS while still physically present in the United States as an immigrant. Instructions are available at the CIS website here.

How to Apply

Step 1: Submit DS-117 Application

To apply for status as a returning resident alien, submit Form DS-117 with supporting documents to the Immigrant Visa Section of the U.S. Embassy, Seoul. To schedule your appointment, please click on “Create Account” here and go through the process. Click here for DS-117 filing instructions. Please include any USCIS documents or cards, along with evidence of your continuing U.S. ties (e.g. tax returns, financial documents, insurance papers, deeds, wills, club memberships, etc.), your intent to return to an unrelinquished residence in the United States, and evidence of the reasons beyond your control for your protracted stay outside of the United States. The consular officer will conduct an interview to determine whether you meet the criteria for Returning Resident (SB-1) status based on your DS-117 and supporting documents.

Click here for fee details.

Step 2: Gather the Required Documents and Prepare for the Immigrant Visa Interview

If your application for returning resident status is approved, you will be processed as all other IV applicants. You will receive an email notification and an Instruction Package; with a list of the documents the intending immigrant must present at the immigrant visa interview. Please schedule for the SB1 visa appointments online by clicking here.

Step 3: The Immigrant Visa Interview

On the interview date, a consular officer will adjudicate the application based on the visa interview and documents submitted at the interview by the applicant. The issuance or denial of the immigrant visa is up to the discretion of the interviewing officer.

You must bring your current passport and all old passports. Bring the forms and documents listed in the Instruction Package to the visa interview. At the interview, you will also need to pay for the immigrant visa application processing fee, which is a separate fee from the DS-117 application fee that you have already paid. Applications without all these items will not be accepted.

Only applicants with appointments will be admitted into the U.S. Embassy. Due to the limited space in our interview waiting room, only beneficiaries may enter; the petitioner may accompany the applicant. Other accompanying parties, including friends, employees, or attorneys, must wait outside. Children under 18 years old may be accompanied by one parent or guardian to the interview. Beneficiaries are strongly advised not to finalize travel arrangements, dispose of their property, or give up their jobs until after they have been issued visas. Quitting a job, leaving school, selling property and/or closing bank accounts prior to visa issuance may be risky, as in certain cases visa issuance may be delayed for some time.