U.S. Permanent residents that have been outside the United States for over two years may still be eligible to return to the U.S. without going through the entire immigration process again.
Generally, green card holders may not stay outside the United States for over one year, unless they have applied for and received a re-entry permit. If your re-entry permit has been approved the maximum amount of stay would be 2 years. So, what happens if you haven’t applied for a travel document and have been outside the country for over two years?
If you are a green card holder a provision under the U.S. immigration laws exists, which would allow for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa to a green card holder who remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond his/her control. This visa is called an SB-1 visa.
What Are The Benefits of Applying for The SB-1 Visa?
If your application for returning resident status is approved, this would eliminate the requirement that an immigrant visa petition be filed on your behalf with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What Are The Qualifying Eligibility for The SB-1 Visa?
To qualify 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 United States;
· Departed from the United States with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
· Are returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted (too long), this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.
As you can see you may be eligible to obtain a returning immigrant visa without having to go through all of the initial requirements that the original petitioner has done for you (i.e. family based petition, or employment based petitions.) If you are looking for a San Diego immigration lawyer who also speaks fluent Farsi contact us to see how we may assist you.