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

The U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott does not issue returning resident visas. This visa type is issued at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. Information on how to apply is below.

Returning Resident Visa

If you are a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) in possession of a valid I-151 or I-551 Alien Resident Receipt Card (“Green Card”) and you have remained outside the U.S. for more than one year, you have lost your status as an LPR and you may not return to the U.S. without a Returning Resident Visa (SB-1).

In order to apply for a Returning Resident Visa, you must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • that you were a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. at the time you departed;
  • that when you departed, you had the intention of returning to the U.S.;
  • that during your stay outside the U.S. you maintained this intention;
  • that you are returning from a temporary stay abroad;
  • that your protracted stay outside the U.S. was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible; and
  • that you are eligible for this visa in all other respects.

Legal Permanent Residents in Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, the Gambia or Guinea

If you are an LPR originally from the above listed countries, you may file an Application to Determine Returning Resident Status (DS 117) at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar.  We recommend that you apply at least three months in advance of your intended travel in order to permit sufficient time for visa processing.

You must provide:

  • The filing and adjudication fee ($380 in US dollars or the equivalent  in CFA, cash only)
  • Valid, independently verifiable evidence of your identity (usually a passport)
  • A valid Form I-551 (“Green Card”)
  • A valid From I-191, Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile (re-entry permit), if applicable
  • One photocopy of each original document
  • Notarized translations of all documents that are not in English or French.
  • Two 5cm x 5 cm color photographs on a light background
  • A passport with a minimum of six months validity
  • Evidence of travel dates (passports stamps, plane tickets, etc.)
    roof of ties to the U.S. (tax documents, other evidence of family, social and economic ties)
  • Proof that your protracted stay was for reasons beyond your control (for example, medical incapacitation, war or civil strife, employment with a U.S. company)

As soon as a consular officer approves your DS-117 application, you will be given instructions on how to apply for the Returning Resident Visa.  Much of what you will be asked to provide will be the same documents you provided for your original immigrant visa. Approval of the application is no guarantee that you will be issued the actual visa. You are strongly advised not to make final travel arrangements until the visa is issued.

You can schedule an appointment if you want to file a DS-117 application.