Understanding the Differences Between a Green Card and a Visa

Moving to the United States is a dream for many foreign nationals. But turning that dream into a reality is not always easy. U.S. immigration services has set policies in place to help manage the number of immigrants allowed into the United States, and the first step for anyone considering emigrating to the U.S. should be to get familiar with the different types of authorizations available.

Immigrants can be granted one of 2 potential authorizations to live and work in the United States. The first is a nonimmigrant visa, such as a H-B1 visa, which authorizes a non american to work in the US. The other is an immigrant visa, which grants residency. The most well-known immigrant visa is the Green Card. But what is the difference between being granted a nonimmigrant visa and a Green Card?

Nonimmigrant Visas

A nonimmigrant visa is a document that gives you the right to seek temporary entry to the United States at a given port of entry. Those who have a nonimmigrant visa are not considered permanent residents or citizens of the United States. The visa is a physical stamp or seal placed in your passport that grants you entry into the country, although U.S. immigration officers have the ultimate authority as to whether or not you will be admitted.

The majority of nonimmigrant visas are granted for temporary stays depending on the kind of visa granted. This includes visitor visas like the B-2, which is specifically for tourism and short-term visits.

Non Immigrant visas to the US

Importantly, the majority of U.S. working visas and nonimmigrant visas authorize extended stays, but do not generally provide a track to acquire permanent residency at a later date. This means that while a student can be granted an F-1 visa to study in the United States, they are not considered permanent residents and must generally leave the country when they complete their studies.

Green Cards

The principal difference between someone with a nonimmigrant visa and a Green Card holder is that Green Card holders are considered permanent residents of the United States, whereas those with a nonimmigrant visa are temporary visitors.

There are many ways to get a Green Card, such as a diversity lottery, marriage to an American citizen, or by being granted refugee status. Once granted a Green Card, these are generally good for up to 10 years, during which time the Green Card holder can live and work freely in the United States.

Another important difference between a Green Card and a nonimmigrant visa is that Green Card holders can apply to sponsor certain family members to join them in the United States as permanent residents. This is not possible for those who only hold a nonimmigrant visa.

Importantly though, Green Card holders are not U.S. citizens. Green Card holders remain citizens of their home country and must carry their home country’s passport in addition to their Green Card when they travel outside of the U.S.

Though they are considered permanent residents, Green Card holders also have certain legal restrictions placed on their immigration statuses. Namely, they can be deported if they are found guilty of certain crimes or criminal violations. The same principle also applies to holders of nonimmigrant visas, whose status can be considered more precarious.

The differences between a nonimmigrant visa and a Green Card are vast. Holding a Green Card offers certain benefits, but becoming a U.S. citizen, which begins with the U.S. citizenship application, offers even more possibilities, including the right to vote and have your voice heard.

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

There are only 4 documents that have been approved by U.S. immigration services. Find out which documents prove that you are an american citizen.

is not a law firm and does not provide any legal services but general information and self-help services regarding immigration to the United States. This company is not a government website/agency/affiliate/representative. The US Citizens and Immigration Services have not endorsed this company. We do not represent any legal authority nor do we purport to act as legal counsel or advisor or any other form of legal representation. Our company provides a self-help software which provides detailed information regarding the process of how to correctly complete an immigration form and we only provide technical support in relation to the above. Therefore it is not a substitute for and does not replace legal advice. Clients will be able to request a refund, as long as they meet the requirements stated in the Refund Policy

© 2024 - All Rights Reserved.