SB-1 (Returning Resident) Visa

The one-year time limitation does not apply to the spouse or child of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, or of a civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad pursuant to official orders. In this case, the spouse or child must present the permanent resident alien card (green card) mentioned above, not have relinquished residence, and be preceding or accompanying the member or employee, or be following to join the member or employee in the United States within four months of the return of the member or employee. In order to facilitate boarding, Customs and Border Protection recommends the issuance of a Transportation Letter.  Information on Transportation Letters is available at USCIS Frankfurt.

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 the last 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.

If you wish to apply 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 original Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551;
• Your Re-entry Permit (if applicable).

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 (e.g. medical incapacitation)

Please mail the forms and documents to:

U.S. Consulate General
Immigrant Visa Section
Giessener Str. 30
60435 Frankfurt

DPO Address: 
U.S. Consulate General
Immigrant Visa Unit
PSC 115 Box 1011
DPO AE 09213-0115

After we have reviewed the documents, we will schedule an interview with a Consular Officer 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.

You will need to be interviewed twice: First to review your application for returning resident status, and if approved, also 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 the Returning Resident application fee and, if approved, the immigrant visa processing fee, as well as the medical fees.

Please note that the Returning Resident application fee is not refundable if your application is refused!

If the Consular Officer determines that you do not meet the criteria for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, then you would need to obtain a new immigrant visa.

You may also qualify for a non-immigrant visa, however, under U.S. immigration law, every applicant for a non-immigrant visa must overcome the presumption that he or she is an intending immigrant. Applicants must demonstrate strong ties to their residence outside the U.S. to qualify, making a non-immigrant visa difficult to obtain immediately after an SB-1 applicant is denied.