If you are planning to travel to America for a permanent or temporary stay, then it is crucial to understand the differences between a visa and a green card.
Although both allow you to live and stay in the United States, they are different regarding how long you can remain in the country and what you are allowed to do while you are there (i.e., employment). This article will give you a rundown of the significant differences between a visa and a green card.
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The Significant Difference Between Visa and a Green Card
Below are the differences between Visas and green cards with all the little details about them.
What A Visa means
A visa is a status given to non-immigrants entering the United States on a temporary stay. People that receive a visa are allowed to stay only until the expiration date of their visa status.
This is much easier to obtain than it is to obtain a green card. And in most cases ( minus employment visas), visa holders are also not allowed to work while they stay in the U.S. These types of visas can be grouped into 2 :
- Immigrant visas and
- Non-immigrant visas.
Visas are issued by U.S. consulates and embassies abroad. Travelers must arrange for an appointment and attend an interview in person. They must also submit a completed application and other necessary documents for the type of U.S. visa they are applying for.
A US visa is typically issued through a stamp made in the traveler’s passport. And this must be shown at border control on arrival in the U.S.
#1. Non-immigrant US visas
Non-immigrant visas are the visas needed for temporary visits to the United States.
Examples of these visas include the following:
- B-1 Visa; required for business trips
- B-2 ; U.S. tourist visa
- The combination of B-1/B-2 Visa
- H visas; for temporary workers
- Religious Worker Visa
- Exchange Visitor Visa.
- Transit/Ship Crew Visa.
- Domestic Employee Visa.
- Journalist and Media Visa.
- Student visas
#2. Immigrant visas for the United States
Immigrant visas for the U.S. allow the holder to move to the country.
Foreigners that wish to live in the USA for the long term must acquire an immigrant visa before entering the country.
And, of course, it is much easier to get a non-immigrant visa than an immigrant visa. The application process for an immigrant visa is more complex and usually requires a sponsor.
What Is A Green Card?
A green card also referred to as a permanent resident card, is a permit that allows you to live in the country permanently. Immigrants with a green card are granted a work permit and allowed to work full-time in the United States.
And for as long as the green card holder does not violate any laws like committing a criminal felony, then they can remain in the U.S. for as long as they want to with no set expiration date. There are different types of green cards, and they may be given for the following reasons:
- Employment-based green card
- Special immigrant green card
- Green cards awarded to abuse or trafficking victims
- Family-based green card
- Refugee or green asylum cards
There are other ways of acquiring a green card as well. And the very best way to determine if you are qualified for a green card or to find out the steps you must take to obtain one is to consult with an immigration attorney.
The Main Difference Between Visas and Green Cards
· The main difference between visas and green cards is the amount of time the foreigner is allowed to stay in the U.S.
A visa is temporary and has a length of time the individual is required to remain in the United States, whereas a green card does not have any time frame stipulated to it and allows for permanent residency. Green cards are also a path to citizenship.
A Visa is only for a Temporary Duration of Time.
The duration or time frame allotted to a visa depends on the type of Visa obtained. For instance, a student visa allows the student to remain in the United States while still studying, but the student must leave the country and return home when they are done studying. (i.e., after graduation).
Another difference between visas and green cards is that most visas do not allow the person to work while staying in the United States, especially when they are there for studying, tourism purposes, or visiting Family.
A Green Card allows the individual a Permanent Residency.
A green card allows the holders to live in the United States permanently as long as they do not violate the green card requirements.
Green card holders may also work while they reside in the United States. They can also pursue a path to citizenship, which is another step beyond permanent resident status.
There are other differences between a U.S. visa and a Green Card.
United States Visas:
- Usually allow a certain length of stay
- Are typically a stamp on the passport
- Must be obtained before traveling
- Come in different types for different purposes
- Do not allow the holder to gain U.S. citizenship
- Allow permanent residency
- Grant almost all the same rights as U.S. citizens (bars the right to federal funding and the right to vote)
- Are a physical card
- Are obtained in the U.S.
- Allow the holder to apply for U.S. citizenship after 3-5 years
How to get a US Green Card
In many cases, it is usually necessary to have an immigrant visa before applying for a Green Card. Once an individual has gotten an immigrant visa and is in the U.S., they can apply for a Green Card.
And Green Cards can be obtained in the following ways:
- Through Family
- From Work
- Through Lottery
For Humanitarian reasons
- Immediate family members of current Green Card holders and U.S. nationals can apply for a Green Card.
- In some cases, individuals moving to the U.S. for Work may be granted Green Cards tied to their jobs, and their families may be eligible.
- There is also an annual lottery for immigrants from all around the world. And in this case, there are 50,000 Green Cards available to winners; their selection is mainly random.
- Green Cards can also be granted in a humanitarian situation or conditions to specific individuals and may include the following:
Victims of human trafficking
- Asylum seekers
- Victims of certain other crimes or abuse
Documents Needed to Apply For A Green Card
Depending on the tour purpose 9f seeking the green card, you may only need some of these documents. For example, you will not need a marriage certificate if you are applying as an immigrant investor, and you will not need proof of an employment offer if you apply for a marriage-based green card.
However, there is a list of documents you must submit when applying for a green card.
- Birth certificate
- Financial documents
- Proof of funds for an investment
- Proof of your sponsor’s U.S. citizenship or
- Court records
- Current or expired U.S. visas
- Valid passport
- Marriage certificate
- Proof of your current immigration status
- Police records
- Death certificate of a former spouse
- Divorce decree
- Immigration violation records
- Medical examination documents
- Military Records
- Police clearance certificate
- Prison records
- Proof of a bona fide marriage
- Proof of lawful entry into the United States
- lawful permanent resident status
After reading through this article, you will be clear about the differences between a U.S. visa and a green card. When traveling to the United States for a short visit, you only need to apply for a visa that permits you to stay there temporarily. Still, a Green Card allows the individual a Permanent Residency.