A permanent resident (called green card holder or LPR) 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.
A returning resident is someone who was previously a legal permanent resident, but remained outside the United States for more than one year due to circumstances beyond his or her control.
To qualify as a returning legal permanent resident, you must show that:
- you were a lawful permanent resident when you departed the United States,
- when you departed you intended to return to the USA and have maintained this intent,
- you are returning from a temporary visit abroad and if the stay was protracted, it was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible, and
- you are eligible for the immigrant visa in all other respects.
If you have lost your permanent resident status, and you wish to apply for a Returning Resident visa, you must submit evidence to support the above requirements along with the Application to Determine Returning Resident Status and a fee of USD 180.
If the application for returning resident status is approved by the consular officer, the immigrant visa unit will provide information regarding the process of the returning resident (SB-1) visa.
You can learn more about Returning Resident Visas on usvisas.state.gov.