SB1 Visa Chances

Hello everyone,

Wanted to get some insight on my husband's chances to be granted a SB1 returning resident visa so we can move back to the states. I am a US citizen and he is a Green Card holder with several years left before expiration(we think, unless his green card has been invalidated because of extended absence).

We moved to Croatia in August of 2017 for me to start a masters program here. We did not do our proper research and didn't know about the re-entry permit we should have applied for before leaving. We went back to the states in September of 2018 (13 months after leaving) for a wedding and this is when we found out we were in trouble. He got a lot of grief from the border agent at the airport but in the end he was allowed to re-enter with his green card, stamped in as a resident with a hand written note next to the stamp saying I-131 recommended. At this point I still had a year of school left so we went back to Croatia and decided we would deal with the problem once we were ready to return to the states. We went back to the states again in December of 2019 and he entered this time with ESTA so he didn't get hassled at the airport. Even this time the border agent was telling him to get a I-131. We contacted our local embassy but they said you can't apply for a I-131 from outside of the US and a re-entry visa is the only option.

We have been ready to move back to the states for a while now, but with the pandemic things have been obviously delayed. Now we are ready to try for the SB1 but just kind of curious what our chances are even like. We have maintained our US bank account as well as credit cards and we have one tax return we can show we filed while living here. We stopped filing tax returns after 2017 because we have been living off of savings and not working.

So, I think that's all the details. Anyone gone through something similar?



Well-Known Member
An SB1 visa is issued when factors beyond your control keep you out the US. That does not sound like what happened, especially with from what you say at least two warnings from CBP to file for an i131 which was not done (and entering on an ESTA is usually tantamount to admitting you’ve abandoned the green card, did the CBP guy not say anything about this?) It sounds like a difficult ask to me, given the length of time you’ve been living abroad even before the pandemic hit (so that’s not likely to be viewed as a reason imo).
An SB1 process has two parts, the first of which is presenting the evidence of why you qualify, and the second the actual visa process. You may not get past the first part, in which case it seems to me your only option would then be to sponsor another spousal visa. My understanding is that if you do get past the first part, the second part is usually a formality.