When a U.S. lawful permanent resident remains abroad for more than one (1) year without permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the person is generally considered to have abandoned U.S. residency and is subject to loss of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. What can you do if you find yourself in this situation and would like to return to the United States?
Step 1: Contact USCIS
If you are a LPR, have been outside of the United States for more than one year, and would like to return to live in the United States, you should contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) office in Manila to determine your current immigration status, and if you are eligible to receive a Boarding Letter as a LPR. To schedule an appointment with USCIS Manila, please visit InfoPass.
Step 2: Contact the Immigrant Visa Unit
If USCIS determines that you are not eligible to receive a Boarding Letter, you may visit the Immigrant Visa Unit for a “returning resident” interview. This interview is not a visa interview. For a fee, the IV Unit will interview you to determine if you are eligible to become a “returning resident.” A “returning resident (SB1),” is any immigrant lawfully admitted for permanent residence who is returning to the U.S. following a temporary visit abroad. Please Note: Conditional Residents of the United States who fail to file an application to have conditional resident status removed are required to apply for a new immigrant visa. They are not eligible to apply to return to the U.S. as a returning resident.
Step 3: Prepare to Apply for Returning Resident Status
If USCIS determines that you are not eligible for a Boarding Letter, you may apply for Returning Resident status. Applicants must submit the following completed forms and documents at the Immigrant Visa Unit’s Check-in Counter (Window 38), on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Interviews are not available on Wednesdays or on Philippine or U.S. holidays .
- Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable filing fee of US$275 (or its local currency equivalent). The filing fee is NOT the visa application fee; this fee is for the determination of returning resident status. Payment of the filing fee does not guarantee that returning resident status will be approved.
- Completed Application to Determine Returning Resident Status (Form DS-117)
- Completed DS-230 Part I, Biographic Data
- Alien Registration Receipt Card, Form I-151 or I-551 (GREEN CARD)
- Passports (valid and expired)
- Re-entry Permit, Form I-327 (if you obtained one)
- Any supporting documents about applicant’s failure to return to the U.S.
Returning resident application forms are available here.
Step 4: Interview
Applicants will be interviewed by a consular officer upon submission of the required documents. The Applicant must demonstrate to a consular officer that he or she departed the U.S. with the intention of returning after a stay of less than one (1) year abroad and his or her failure to return to the U.S. as planned must be for reasons beyond his or her control.
Step 5: After the Interview
The decision of status can only be made after a review of the returning resident application and supporting documents, and an interview by a consular officer. Applicants will receive the results via postal mail from the Immigrant Visa Unit.
If the Returning Resident Application is Approved
If approved for returning resident status, the applicant must still meet all other documentary and legal requirements to qualify for a new immigrant visa, including payment of the immigrant visa processing fee of US$220.
If Returning Resident Application is Disapproved
If returning resident status is not approved and the applicant still wishes to immigrate to the U.S. a new visa petition must be filed on his or her behalf.