Immigrant Visas: Returning Resident Visa

A permanent resident (called lawful permanent resident or LPR) or conditional resident (CR) who has remained outside the United States for longer than one year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence.  You can learn more about Returning Resident Visas on usvisas.state.gov.

What if I have been outside the U.S. for longer than 12 months?

Permanent resident aliens who are unable to return to the United States within the travel validity period of the Alien Registration Receipt Card, or the Reentry Permit, may apply to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw for a special immigrant returning resident (SB-1) visa. To qualify for such status aliens must show that:

  • they were lawful permanent residents when they departed the United States;
  • when they departed they intended to return to the United States and have maintained this intent;
  • they are returning from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay was protracted, that it was caused by reasons beyond their control and for which they were not responsible; and
  • they are eligible for the immigrant visa in all other respects.

Important: 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 as a returning resident.

How do I apply for a returning resident visa?

Applicants in Poland who wish to apply for returning resident (SB-1) visas must schedule their afternoon appointment at the Immigrant Visa Unit either online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/ or through the call center at +48 22 307 1361 in Poland or (703) 988 7101 in the United States. Appointments are available between 1:30 and 3:00 pm Monday thru Friday, except for American and Polish public holidays.

Applicants should schedule their appointments well in advance of their intended travel (at least three months) to permit sufficient time for visa processing.

Please bring completed form DS-117 (Applications to Determine Returning Resident Status, PDF – 24.05 kb) with you when you come to apply for returning resident status.

What is the fee for processing a returning resident visa?

The fee for filing form DS-117 and determining returning resident status is USD 180.
The SB1 immigrant visa application fee, which you will be required to pay if the returning resident status is granted to you by a consular officer, is USD 205.

Both fees are payable at the Consular Section’s cashier only, in U.S. dollars or the equivalent in Polish currency at the Embassy’s exchange rate; in cash or by a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Novus/Discover or Diners only). Checks are not accepted. Both fees are non-refundable.

Can I still receive a nonimmigrant visa if my application for a returning resident immigrant visa is denied?

If an application for returning resident visa is refused on the grounds that the alien has given up his residence in the United States, he/she may apply for a nonimmigrant visa, but must qualify for such a visa under the law. This includes the demonstration of residence abroad to which he will return and the intent to use appropriately a nonimmigrant visa. If the applicant wishes to return to the United States permanently, he/she may have to apply for an immigrant visa on the same basis by which he immigrated originally, if that is possible.

For further information on returning resident visas please check the State Department’s website.

How do I maintain my status as a lawful resident of the United States?

lawful permanent resident or a conditional resident of the United States will maintain status provided he/she maintains a bona fide domicile in the United States and does not remain outside the country for more than one year. A resident in possession of a re-entry permit (PDF – 1.18 mb) issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States may remain outside the United States until the date the permit expires, which is usually two years from the date of issuance.

Important:

Conditional residents of the United States who fail to file an application to have conditional resident status removed will be required to apply for a new immigrant visa based on a newly filed and approved I-130 petition.

My “green card” is lost. Can I get a new one at the Embassy?

Only offices of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States can issue replacement Permanent Resident Cards. The Embassy can issue a boarding foil for a return trip to the United States. Boarding foils may only be issued to Permanent Resident Aliens who are returning to the United States after an absence of less than one year. Please read carefully our instructions.

What can I do if my card has expired?

If your green card has expired, provided it had the full 10 years validity period and your stay outside the United States was not longer than one year, you may travel with this expired Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551). Please read this info leaflet. You may print it out and take it with you. Also available in Russian.

Can I abandon my Lawful Permanent Resident Status?

The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw does not accept forms I-407 anymore. 

If you wish to abandon your permanent residence, please complete form I-407 (PDF – 298.4 kb), Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence (make sure to complete all relevant items, including item 10 of Part 1 – state the reasons in detail as to why you are abandoning your LPR status). Please make a copy of the fully completed I-407 form and your I-551 Green Card for your use before sending them to USCIS.

Please mail Form I-407 and your Permanent Resident Card to the Eastern Form Center in the United States.

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

USCIS Eastern Forms Center
Attn: I-407 Unit
PO Box 567
Williston, VT 05495, USA

For FedEX, UPS, DHL or other express/registered deliveries:

USCIS Eastern Forms Center
Attn: I-407 Unit
124 Leroy Road
Williston, VT 05495, USA

You may also submit Form I-407 to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at a port of entry to the United States.

I’m a Lawful Permanent Resident and my child was just born in Poland. How can I bring my child to the U.S.?

Your child can enter the United States without an immigrant visa or a transportation letter provided that:
– the child was born during the mother’s temporary visit abroad
– child’s admission to the U.S will be within two years of birth; and
– either accompanying parent is applying for readmission upon first return after the birth of the child.

Please make sure before you begin the travel to the United States that you have all required documents for your child and yourself that will allow you to board the plane and then be legally admitted to the United States.

You should have:

  • your and your baby’s valid passports;
  • evidence that you are a Lawful Permanent Resident and have been outside the United States for less than one year, or less than two years if you are in possession of a valid re-entry permit;
  • a complete version of your child’s birth certificate (Odpis zupełny aktu urodzenia) with an English translation by a sworn translator (tłumacz przysięgły). The Polish “short form” of birth certificate is not accepted.
  • If your last name on your child’s birth certificate is different than the one in your passport or your green card, please bring documents showing your official name change, for example a marriage certificate

You may print out this info leaflet and take it with you. Also available in Russian.