After immigrating to the United States, you may be subject to certain time limits when you leave the country. If you were outside the United States for longer than your residency status permitted, you might be eligible for a returning resident special immigrant visa. However, you must have been outside of the United States for reasons outside of your control to qualify.
Obtaining a returning resident visa involves filling out a DS-117 Application to Determine Returning Resident Status. On this form, you explain why you remained outside the country and your long-term ties to the United States. An immigration attorney at New Frontier Immigration Law is ready to help you with your case.
What Is the DS-117 Application?
The DS-117 application is a form you can fill out if you are a permanent resident of the United States and are attempting to return to the country after traveling abroad. It can be part of your application for a returning resident visa. This form allows you to qualify for special immigrant status, but you need to show proof of the following:
- Before leaving the United States, you had a “lawfully admitted for permanent residence” status.
- When you left the United States, you planned on returning and are still planning on returning.
- You are returning to the United States. If your time outside the country was prolonged, it was for reasons outside your control.
You will need to prove the information you provide on a DS-117 form. For example, you will need to show evidence that you have lawful permanent residence in the United States, such as through your Form I-151. You also will need to show proof of your ties to the United States and your long-term commitment to living here. You could establish this through records of your previous tax returns or family or job ties in the country.
In addition, you will need to show proof of the dates you traveled and why your return was delayed. For example, if you were sick, you could prove this through your medical bills or other documents.
What Information Will I Need to Include on the DS-117 Application?
You should fill out the form as completely and accurately as possible. Make sure to complete all the blanks that apply to your situation.
Some of the information you will need to provide includes:
- Your name, current address, and marital status
- The name and residency of your close family members that currently live in the United States
- Your previous immigration record
- Information about your most recent departure from the United States, including where you were going and the reason for your visit
- The ties you have to the United States
- The reason you have not returned to the country prior to you filling out this application
- Times you have lived outside the United States for longer than six months since you became a permanent resident of the country
Special Considerations for a DS-117 Form You Should Know About
There can be various reasons that prevented you from returning to the United States in the expected timeframe. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic initially barred many people from regular travel, forcing them to remain in another country.
Other reasons that might have barred you from traveling or leaving the country where you were staying include:
- A pregnancy
- Natural disasters or other crises
When you fill out the form, be as thorough and honest as possible about what prevented you from returning to the United States. Explain the circumstances and why they were outside of your control.
Note that lying or falsifying information on a DS-117 Application to Determine Returning Resident Status could cause the U.S. government to reject your application. Consulting with an immigration attorney can ensure that your form contains all the necessary information so you can rest easy.
How Can Hiring an Immigration Attorney Help Me?
You may plan to handle your DS-117 paperwork on your own, but this process can be complex and lead to issues with your return to the country. The legal team at New Frontier Immigration Law is ready to help you with your case. If you decide to work with us, we can assist you in the following areas:
- Going over your paperwork to make sure you include all critical information on your DS-117 application for returning resident status
- Answering your questions about the form and how long the process typically takes
- Gathering the additional documents you will need to re-enter the United States
- Explaining and guiding you through the next steps if the U.S. government denies your application
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Get Started With a Strategic Session Today
Our legal team at New Frontier Immigration Law is ready to help you with your DS-117 application and other immigration documents. We can answer your questions, offer the legal advice you seek, and represent you throughout the process of settling your residency status.
We want to help you with everything from your initial paperwork to the appeals process if necessary. Get ready to take that first step by contacting us to get started with your strategic session today.