A permanent resident (called lawful permanent resident or LPR) or conditional resident (CR) who has remained outside the United States for longer than one year, 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. If you are an LPR unable to return to the United States within the travel validity period of the green card (1 year) or the validity of the Re-entry Permit (2 years), you may be eligible and can apply at the U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh 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:
- Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of 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.
The Permanent Resident can appear in the Consular Section any Monday or Tuesday between 1pm to 2pm to apply for a returning resident visa. The following are the required documents:
- A valid passport
- A complete form DS-117, Application to Determine Returning Resident Status.
- Form I-551 and/or Form I-327, if available: Original “green card” and/or “re-entry permit”, if available
- Current and/or old passport(s) showing your identity, admission into the United States as a legal permanent resident, and the Cambodian immigration stamp on your return to Cambodia from the U.S.
- Proof of ties to the U.S. and intent to return: for example, U.S. tax returns and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the United States.
- Evidence that the protracted stay abroad was beyond your control.
- Two recent 2″ x 2″ passport photographs.
- Returning Resident application fee of $180.