I am a Pakistani citizen and I went to US in 2016 and stayed about 4 months in total and also got a Green Card that still has expiry date of 2023

I stayed in US only 4 months in total and then had to come back to Pakistan (and I never returned) for health issues of my grand mother, she passed away just 1 year ago.

I work as a freelance software engineer with US clients and maintain a Payoneer account (not sure if that matters).

I have relatives in US too whom I talk to regularly.

How many chances are there to get a visa once again if I apply for Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa?

Or what are other possible ways I can go back to US and become resident again?

1 Answer 1


Technically, unless you got notified otherwise, your green card is valid and you can use it for entry (source).

Lawful permanent residents (LPRs), refugees, and asylees will continue to be able to use their Non-citizens Registration Card (Form I-551), issued by DHS, or other valid evidence of permanent residence status or refugee or asylee status to apply for entry to the United States.

After a prolonged absence you may run into issues with the CBP. Absence of 1 year or more requires special handling by the CBP which may end up in denying entry or referring you to an immigration judge for revoking your status, and which could be avoided with presenting a re-entry permit (if the absence is for up to 2 years), or SB-1 visa.

You may end up being notified that the CBP officer determined you've not maintained your residence in the US and deny entry, at which point it would no longer become valid (the process is a bit more involved than that, but that's the basic summary). Given your fact pattern, this outcome is likely. You'll need to show a good reason for absence, a good reason for not asking for a re-entry permit before leaving, show your maintained ties to the US (like tax returns, bank accounts, property, etc), and be prepared to go to the immigration judge with all that before being deported.

SB-1, if given, will shield you from all that, but you'll need to provide all that information and details to the consulate when applying for SB-1, and the likelihood of getting it depends on how convincing you are that you really had to leave so soon and for so long and you still see yourself as a US person. Which, IMHO, is not very likely.

You may want to talk to a US immigration attorney to discuss your situation before you do anything.

  • A green card is not valid for entry after an absence of over one year.
    – phoog
    Jan 15, 2022 at 20:12
  • @phoog that's not true. A 10 year-valid green card is valid for entry even when it is expired. The status may be revoked after an absence of over one year, which is exactly what I described.
    – littleadv
    Jan 16, 2022 at 2:10
  • 1
    @littleadv: It is true that in the case of an absence of more than one year, a green card is not one of the acceptable documents for re-entry of a returning permanent resident. See 8 CFR 211.1(a)(2). However, the officer can waive that requirement under 8 CFR 211.1(b)(3).
    – user102008
    Jan 16, 2022 at 5:40
  • @user102008 that is what I was referring to as "special handling". If you look at the airlines' guide for what is acceptable for entry to the US, you'll see that there's no distinction for LPRs based on time of absence, only based on the expiration period of the card (2 years only valid while not expired, 10 years valid any time). The OP can get to the CBP with his card as is, how the CBP will handle it however is a different question. Just FYI - entry is never guaranteed to LPRs, no matter days of absence.
    – littleadv
    Jan 16, 2022 at 20:26
  • "The status may be revoked after an absence of over one year": the status can be revoked at any time if the LPR is found to have abandoned residence in the US (among other reasons). The reason airlines don't look at the time of absence is the same reason they don't conduct criminal background checks on passengers: they aren't responsible for ensuring that the passenger is actually admissible, only that the passenger possesses certain documents. @user102008 do you think a 211.1(b)(3) waiver likely after a six-year absence following a four-month period of residence?
    – phoog
    Jan 16, 2022 at 22:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.