Applying for Status as Returning Resident (SB-1) at U.S. Embassy or Consulate in India – Part 1 of 2

Background

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) of the United States are expected to live in the United States. If an LPR intends to spend more than a year outside of the United States, s/he should first obtain a “Re-entry Permit” before departing. If an LPR stays outside of the United States beyond the validity of  Re-entry Permit or if an LPR  traveled without a Re-entry Permit, and was unable to return to the U.S. within one year s/he may be eligible for status as “Returning Resident (SB-1).

In India, an application for SB-1 may be made at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai. If the SB-1 is approved, one need not go through the process of filing a new Immigrant Petition with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the SB-1 is approved, the applicant will have to complete the medicals and go through the immigrant visa interview.

In this issue, we will discuss the circumstances under which one would qualify for the SB-1.

Eligibility to Apply for Status as Returning Resident

There is a three-prong test to determine eligibility for SB-1. The applicant will have to prove that s/he:

  • Had the status of an alien, lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of departure from the United States;
  • Departed from the United States with the intention of returning and has not abandoned this intention; and
  • Is returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad, and the protracted stay was caused by reasons beyond the applicant’s control and for which s/he was not responsible.

We are listing some examples of circumstances under which one may qualify for SB-1

  • If an LPR travels outside of the U.S. and is unable to return on account of a medical condition that prevented the applicant from returning to the U.S.
  • If the medical condition of a close family member required  assistance of the LPR and the treatment was unexpectedly prolonged, which, prevented the applicant from returning to the U.S.;
  • If an LPR’s passport has been impounded by the Court and was later returned, provided the LPR is otherwise eligible to receive a U.S. visa.

Circumstances listed above are not exhaustive and what works for one applicant may not work for another. It is best to consult a qualified and experienced immigration attorney before applying for the SB-1.

In the next issue, we will discuss the procedure to apply for  SB-1 in India.