A permanent resident who has remained outside the United States for more than one year will generally require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence. One way to extend this timeline is to apply for re-entry permit (PDF 667 KB) before departing the U.S. Please note that re-entry permits can only be applied for when the individual is physically present in the U.S. We do not accept re-entry permit applications at the U.S. Consulate.
If the permanent resident has overstayed his/her permitted time outside the U.S., it may be possible for the individual to apply for returning resident status. An application for returning resident status requires evidence of the applicant’s continuing, unbroken ties to the United States, evidence that their extended stay was truly beyond their control, and evidence that their intent was to always return to the United States. If the individual is not able to meet these criteria, a family member or employer can also file an immigrant visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on his/her behalf.
The returning resident application is a two-step process.
Step One: The first step is for the permanent resident to apply for a determination that he/she qualifies for returning resident status. If you reside in the provinces of Sindh or Balochistan, you must apply and interview in-person with a Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate Karachi to complete the first step of the returning resident application process. To schedule an appointment for a returning resident visa, please click here. After clicking on “Make an Appointment,” please select “Request notarial and other services not listed above” to request an appointment for a returning resident visa.
On the day of your appointment, please be prepared to present the following documents:
- A completed Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117.
- Your Permanent Resident Card (also known as Form-551 or a Green Card).
- Your Re-entry Permit, if available.
- Documentation of the exact date that you last departed the United States (Examples: airline tickets, passport stamps, etc.)
- Proof of your ties to the United States and your intention to return (Examples: tax returns, evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the U.S., etc.)
- Proof that your protracted stay outside of the United States was for reasons beyond your control (Examples: medical incapacitation, etc.)
- The Returning Resident Fee. (Please note that the fee is non-refundable, even if you are found ineligible for returning resident status.)
English translations of all foreign language documents are required. Any foreign language document must be accompanied by a full English translation that the translator has certified as complete and correct. The translator must certify that he/she is competent to translate the foreign language into English. It is not necessary to have the translation notarized. A Consular Officer will interview you and review your application and supporting documents.
Step Two: If it is determined that you meet the criteria for returning resident (SB-1) status, the U.S. Consulate will give you instructions on completing the second step of the process at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. The second step of the process will require you to complete the entire immigrant visa process including paying the immigrant visa fees, obtaining a medical exam, submitting all necessary police clearances, affidavits of support and civil documents, and appearing in-person for a second appointment at the Embassy for the immigrant visa interview. Processing time varies depending on the particular circumstances of your case and the amount of information and evidence you provide at the time of your appointment; please note that in some instances, it can take months to process an application. Please do not purchase a plane ticket to return to the United States until the visa has been issued in your passport.
If you are not eligible for returning resident status, you may opt to have a relative or employer file a new petition on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Please Note: Individuals contemplating whether to submit an application for returning resident status should carefully consider whether their circumstances meet the criteria outlined above. The application fee is non-refundable and the evaluation process is rigorous. It is also worth noting that approval of returning resident status does not guarantee the issuance of a visa.