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A permanent resident (called lawful permanent resident or LPR) or conditional resident (CR) who has remained outside the U.S. for longer than one year, or the validity of green card or one year whichever shorter (for conditional resident), 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. A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa to an LPR who remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond his/her control. This webpage is about Returning Resident Visas. If you are an LPR unable to return to the U.S. within the travel validity period of the green card (1 year) or the validity of green card or one year whichever is shorter (for conditional resident), the validity of the Re-entry Permit (2 years), you may be eligible and can apply in Ciudad Juarez for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.
If your application for returning resident status is approved, this eliminates the requirement that an immigrant visa petition be filed on your behalf with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You will need to be interviewed for both your application for returning resident status, and usually later for the immigrant visa. An SB-1 applicant is required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and have a medical examination.
Qualifications for Returning Resident Status
Under provisions of immigration law, to qualify for returning resident status, you will need to prove to the Consular Officer that you:
Spouse or Child of a Member of the U.S. Armed Forces or Civilian Employee of the U.S. Government Stationed Abroad – Please review the exemption for the spouse or child of a military member
Military Family Members Traveling to United States on Expired Permanent Resident Card (Green Cards) I-551
A noncitizen spouse or minor child, previously admitted to the United States as an immigrant, may be admitted to the United States even if he/she is in possession of an expired Green Card, if he/she is the spouse or minor child of a U.S. military service member or of a direct hire U.S. Government Civilian employee who has been overseas on U.S. Government orders.
Please read the State Department Memo (PDF 96KB) for details. Be sure to print out a copy of this letter and carry it with you when entering the United States.
Conditional Resident Status for Military Family Members: (CR-1/2 or CR-6/7)
If you have a conditional resident card, a petition Form I-751 must be filed to remove conditions on residence within 90 days prior to the expiration date. In order for the USCIS office to recognize military or government orders, you must indicate on top of Form I-751, “ACTIVE MILITARY” or “GOVERNMENT ORDERS” and submit a copy of the spouse’s current military or government orders. For more information, please contact USCIS, US Citizenship and Immigration Serivces via military help line .
Naturalization of Family Members of U. S. Citizens Deployed Abroad:
If you are a U.S. citizen member of the U.S. Armed Forces and are or will be deployed abroad by the Armed Forces for at least one year, your family members may be eligible for expedited naturalization after completing the immigrant visa process. For information, refer to the USCIS brochure Naturalization Information for Military Personnel or check with your base legal office.
Base Legal Offices:
Members of the military may be able to seek assistance of the base legal affairs office on an immigrant petition and an immigrant visa application.