SB1 Visa Explained

SB1 Visa Explained

What is the SB1 visa?

A Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa allows persons who have exceeded the limits on extended travel imposed by their permanent resident card (or green card) to return to the United States and restore their lawful permanent resident status. If lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and conditional residents (CRs) of the United States have overstayed their stays overseas but can show that returning to the United States was not possible at the time, they may apply for an SB-1 visa.

Who qualifies to apply for the SB-1 visa?

If you match the following criteria, you are eligible to apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa:

1. You were a permanent resident of the United States before you left.
2. You expected to keep your permanent residency status and return to the United States when you left the country.
3. You spent more than a year abroad due to circumstances beyond your control or responsibility.
4. You are eligible for an immigrant visa in the United States. You should be aware that if you have a criminal record while overseas, you may no longer be eligible for immigrant visas in the United States.

What is the SB-1 visa application process?

If you want to apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, you'll need to contact your local US consulate for details. The US Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs recommends contacting your local consular office at least three months before your planned trip. Filing two immigration forms and attending a consular interview are part of the process. More information on your unique procedure can be found on the Department of State's website by searching for your consulate or embassy.

Part 1: File Form DS-117

To begin, fill out Form DS-117, which is the "Application to Determine Returning Resident Status." Form DS-117 is classified as a Special Visa Service by the Department of State. You'll need to present proof of your eligibility for Returning Resident (SB-1) status when you fill out Form DS-117. Tax returns or evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the United States to indicate that you had an intention of returning and that your trip was supposed to be a temporary visit are examples of evidence. You'll also have to show proof that your overstay was caused by circumstances beyond your control.

Proof of medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. corporation, accompanying a U.S. citizen spouse, or travel limitations during the Covid-19 pandemic are all common examples of these documents. All of the papers you give will be returned to you at a later date. Making copies of your supporting documents for your personal records is a good idea.

A consular official will analyze your Form DS-117 and supporting documents to determine if you qualify for SB-1 status. Even if you qualify for SB-1 status, you must be eligible for US immigrant visas in order to acquire an SB-1 visa. You will not be granted a visa if you have become ineligible either in the United States or abroad.

Part 2: File Form DS-260 & Attend Consular Interview

The next phase of the Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa application procedure will be communicated to you by your local US embassy or consulate. Your US embassy or consulate-general will usually provide you with instructions for your medical examination, including a list of all required vaccines for entry into the US, before your consular visa interview. They will also provide you instructions for your consular interview, including what you should bring:

  • Your authentic passport.

  • The "Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application," often known as Form DS-260. On the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website of the US Department of State, you must fill out Form DS-260.

  • Two pictures that meet the photo standards of the US government.

  • You must bring a list of civil documents to your interview. Each US embassy or consulate will have its own set of paperwork.

How much does it cost to apply for the SB-1 visa?

You must pay two different fees to apply for the SB-1 visa. The first charge is the DS-117 filing fee. Form DS-117 currently has a $180 filing cost. A $205 immigrant visa application processing charge is the second fee you must pay. These fees will be paid to the US embassy or consulate in your country. To confirm when these payments should be made and which payment methods are available, go to the website of your local US embassy or consulate. For advice on how to pay filing fees, read this article.

What happens if your SB-1 visa application is not approved?

Because you have abandoned your permanent home in the United States, your local US consulate or embassy may conclude that your Form DS-117 and supporting documentation do not qualify you as a Returning Resident. If you have established a residency outside of the United States that you intend to return to, you may still be able to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. You will need to apply for a new immigrant visa to return to the United States if you cannot offer sufficient evidence that you have established a residence abroad. You should apply in the same category as your original immigration application and on the same grounds.

What happens when an F2B visa application is denied?

If a visa applicant is denied based on a ground of inadmissibility, it may be possible to secure a waiver of inadmissibility. Grounds of inadmissibility are

  • Medical and health reasons

  • Convictions for crimes

  • Concerns about national securityPossibility of becoming a public charge

  • Misrepresentation or fraud

  • Removals in the past or unauthorized presence

  • Other considerations

The reason for someone's denial will determine whether they are eligible for a waiver. For more legal advice, contact a US immigration attorney.


I hope this information was useful. Complex immigration processing can be incredibly complicated and stressful for everyone. Before filing this application, you should seek legal advice from an experienced attorney. can assist you and will be there for you every step of the journey. Please contact us via phone or email.