Getting a Returning Visa

November 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

US Lawful permanent residents (LPR) or Conditional residents (CR) who stayed abroad for more than a year, or stayed beyond the validity period of the Re-entry Permit are required to get a new immigrant visa to enter the US to continue their permanent residence. If you are green card holder and had to remain outside the US due to inevitable circumstances beyond your control, you can be issued a Returning resident special immigrant visa. If you are unable to get back to the US within the one year validity period of your green card or the two years validity of a Re-entry Permit, you can still qualify for a return visa. You can apply at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.

If the US Consulate approves your return visa application, there is no need for an immigrant visa petition to be filed for you. You will have to attend interviews for your application for returning resident status and for the immigrant visa as well. You are required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and attend a medical examination. You have to pay both the visa processing fees and medical fees too.

If you are a member of the US Armed Forces or a civilian employee of the US Government stationed abroad on official orders, your spouse and children can use their green card to enter the US even if it has expired. They need not get a return visa (SB-1) as long as they have not abandoned their green card status and their spouse or parent is returning to the US.

To become eligible for a return visa, you will have to prove that you were in lawful permanent resident status at the time of leaving the US and left with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention. You also have to prove that you are getting back to the US from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was lengthened, this was due to unavoidable circumstances beyond your control for which you were not responsible.

You should submit a completed Form DS-117 (Application to establish Returning Resident Status) to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. In addition you have to submit your Permanent Resident Card and Re-entry Permit (if available). You should also submit certain supporting documents. At the Consulate, an officer will review your application and supporting documents to check if you meet the criteria for SB-1 status. Should you meet, you must qualify for the immigrant visa in all other respects to get a SB-1 visa.

The US Consulate will detail you with instructions regarding further processing of your SB-1 visa and these will differ from each Embassy or Consulate. After processing if the consular officer finds that you do not meet the criteria for a SB-1 visa for reasons that you have abandoned your residence in the US, it may or may not be possible for you to get a non immigrant visa depending on whether you have established a residence abroad. If you are not able to furnish sufficient and convincing evidence of compelling ties abroad, then you have to apply for an immigrant visa on the same basis and under the same classification through which you entered before.


Travel Document

October 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

Form I-131 is used to apply for a re-entry permit, refugee travel document or advance parole travel document, to include parole into the US for humanitarian reasons.

Advance Parole is for applicants who have a pending Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), and who want to travel before the application is approved. A Refugee Travel Document is for applicants who hold Refugee or Asylee status and who want to travel outside the US. Re-entry Permit is for green card holders who will be outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, generally one year or more.

If you are filing Form I-131 based on your pending or approved Form I-821, you are required to file the form with the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility. In addition, you must include a copy of the I-797, Notice of Action that shows that your application was accepted or approved. If you are applying to get your advance parole document renewed, the USCIS will accept and adjudicate Form I-131 filed up to 120 days before the date your current Advance Parole document expires.

Applicants have to complete biometrics at an Application Support Center (ASC). If you are applying for a Refugee Travel Document while outside of the US, you have to get fingerprinted at an overseas USCIS facility. Applicants between 14 and 79 years of age applying for a Refugee Travel Document or Re-entry Permit are also required to get fingerprinted as part of USCIS biometric service requirements. After you have filed this application, USCIS will review it and will inform you in writing of the time/location of your biometrics appointment. If you fail to appear for biometrics, it might result in a possible rejection of your application. Applicants for Re-entry Permit and/or Refugee Travel Documents aged between 14 and 79 have to pay an additional $85 fee for biometrics.

The submission fee for advance parole or re-entry permit is $360 and for a Refugee Travel Document for an applicant age 16 or older is $135. For a child under the age of 16 years, it is $105. For applicants aged between 14 and 79, a biometric fee of $85 is required for a Reentry Permit and a Refugee Travel Document , unless the applicant resides outside of the U.S at the time of filing their form. However, biometric fee is not required for advance parole applicants.

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