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Are Immigrant Visas and Green Cards the Same Thing?

Last Updated: March 22, 2017 at 11:23 pm

While us visas and green cards both allow you to live and stay in the US, they are in fact quite different and it is important to understand these differences before applying for a green card or visa. A visa allows you to enter the US for a specific time and purpose. A visa can permit you to remain in the US for some time and can even pave the way to applying for a green card. However, with a visa, your permanent residence is still outside the US. With a green card, however, you become a permanent resident of the US. You can stay and work in the US indefinitely. While a visa offers temporary status, the green card also offers permanent status. As well, green card holders can sponsor their immediate relatives to get a green card and live and work in the US. This is not the case with a visa. As well, a green card can allow the holder to enjoy some government benefits, while visa holders are not eligible for these types of benefits.

However, it is important to understand that there are also two types of US visas: Immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. Nonimmigrant visas are temporary visas which allow someone to enter the US and live in the US for a specific period of time. However, immigrant visas allow someone to enter the US on a permanent basis. The terms "green card" and "immigration visa" can be used interchangeably. An immigration visa or green card is much more difficult to obtain than a B1 visitor visa or other nonimmigrant visa, as there are only a select number of these visas allotted every year and since the eligibility requirements are quite strict. In general, one secures an immigrant visa through family sponsorship, special immigration status, or employer sponsorship. However, although a green card is harder to secure it offers many benefits and is the only option for someone who wants to live permanently in the US.