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The SB1 visa grants returning lawful permanent residents without a re-entry permit the ability to resume residence in the United States of America. An SB1 visa is used mainly when permanent residents live outside the United States. The period specified for the same is more than a year or two. It is also called the green card or the re-entry permit. Let us deeply understand SB1 visas' importance, benefits, procedures, types, eligibility criteria, and key terms.
Steps to Apply for an SB1 Visa
Before sending an application for an official SB1 non-immigrant visa, one must thoroughly understand the set application procedure to avoid delays and rejections. Below are the steps required to apply to acquire an SB1 visa:
- File Form DS-117. The first step in the filing process is to complete and submit the Form DS-117. DS-117 Form refers to the application for SB1 status. A consular officer will evaluate it at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Provide Documents. Along with Form DS-117, other valid documents need to be submitted. These documents include the permanent resident card or the re-entry permit, whichever is applicable. A permanent resident card is filed through Form I-551.
- Pay the Visa Fees. The applicant must pay a non-refundable visa fee. The fees are determined by the Department of State fees.
- Attend an Interview. Once the application is accepted, the person will be called for an interview. It is the moment to shine and convince the officer of the genuine intent that a person has to return to the U.S.
- Wait for Approval. The applicant has to wait for approval and ensure that the case convinces the consular officer. If convinced, the applicant will be granted an SB1 visa. It marks a person’s willingness to return to the U.S.
Key Advantages of Returning with an SB1 Visa
SB1 visa is an opportunity for individuals who aspire to return to the United States to seek better employment prospects or join family members. In addition, this non-native visa remains focused on individuals who were once lawful permanent citizens of the United States. Such residents have abandoned that status and are now willing to return. Let us read more about the importance and benefits of getting an SB1 visa:
- Lawful Permanent Residency: The SB1 visa restores a resident's legal permanent resident status. The SB1 visa holder can enjoy the benefits of being a permanent resident. With this also comes the responsibilities.
- Promising Work Opportunities: The SB1 visa applicants get unrestricted access to several benefits in the U.S. when they become legal permanent residents. It includes employment, education, healthcare, and more, opening up countless job opportunities.
- Reunion with the Closed Ones: An SB1 visa gives the chance to reunite with friends and family staying in the U.S. This helps people who have separated from their loved ones due to the expiration of the return visa.
Eligibility Criteria for Obtaining an SB1 Visa
The SB1 visa is a gem of U.S. immigration law. It is a sign of hope for people with no permanent resident status. Such people have been absent from the U.S. The reasons for the same are not in their control. The SB1 visa is primarily offered to two types of groups:
- Legal Permanent Citizens: The legal permanent citizens are residents who have been living overseas for an extended duration and want to return to the United States.
- Conditional Permanent Residents: The conditional permanent residents want to remove their "conditional" status. These people want to become a lawful permanent resident.
Legal Permanent Citizens
It is imperative to remain well-versed with the eligibility criteria for a legal permanent resident. For the same, an applicant must also know the types of cards they may possess. It has the following conditions:
- Evidence of Intention: The applicants must be able to prove that their absence from the U.S. was temporary. The applicant always intended to maintain their LPR status. A strong intent to return is necessary to strengthen the case, like retaining a U.S. mailing address, paying taxes, or keeping family ties.
- Continuous Residence: The applicant should show that their stay outside the U.S. was not due to abandonment or extended absence. U.S. immigration authorities will scrutinize the reasons for abandoning permanent residency. The valid reasons may include employment abroad, family obligations, or unforeseen circumstances.
- Valid Entry Documents: Valid and unexpired LPR entry documents are essential and should be submitted timely. Along with understanding the eligibility criteria for legal permanent residents, it is also essential to understand the two types of validity cards that lawful permanent residents possess. If both cards have expired, the resident cannot re-enter the United States without an SB1 visa.
- Green Card: A green card refers to a travel card for the residents of the United States. It provides a travel validity period of one year. After this period, the card expired.
- Reentry Permit: A reentry permit remains applicable for two years and authorizes legal permanent citizens to return to the United States after leaving.
Conditional Permanent Residents
The eligibility criteria for conditional permanent residents are as follows:
- Fulfillment of Conditions: The SB1 visa applicant must fulfill all the eligibility conditions and further prove that the conditions of their residence were met. Moreover, they must further prove that the reason for their absence was not in their control.
- Valid Entry Documents: Similar to lawful permanent citizens, valid entry documents are essential for getting an SB1 visa.
Key Terms for SB1 Visas
- Continuity of Residence: The term “continuity of residence" refers to the requirement that the applicant maintains an essential connection to the United States when staying abroad.
- Biometrics Appointment: A step in the SB1 application process where applicants provide fingerprints and photographs for identity verification.
- Visa Interview: A mandatory step where SB1 applicants discuss their circumstances with a consular officer to determine their eligibility.
- Exceptional Circumstances: Unforeseen and compelling situations that prevented a green card holder from returning to the U.S., as required for SB1 eligibility.
- Biological or Legal Parentage: Documentation must prove the familial relationship between a green card holder and any dependents seeking SB1 visas.
- National Visa Center (NVC): The agency responsible for processing immigrant visa applications, including SB1 visa applications.
- Affirmative Statement of Intent: A written statement in which SB1 visa applicants affirm their intent to return to the U.S. as permanent residents.
- I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status: The form green card holders use to abandon their permanent resident status formally.
- Public Charge Inadmissibility: A ground of inadmissibility that could bar an SB1 applicant from returning to the U.S. if they are likely to become a public charge upon reentry.
Final Thoughts on SB1 Visas
The SB1 visa is like the secret passage back to an applicant’s home in the United States. Nevertheless, to get this SB1 visa approved and return to their homeland, the applicant must meet the specified eligibility provisions and pay the necessary application fees. The applicant can lawfully re-enter the United States upon getting the necessary permissions and authorizations from the officials. Moreover, obtaining an SB1 visa will also help applicants to get the status of a legal permanent resident. Hence, it might not be wrong to say that the SB1 visa opens up a range of opportunities for applicants who are otherwise unavailable.
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