Differences Between Immigrant Visas and Non-Immigrant Visas

There are two general types of US visas available from US immigration services: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Deciding which visa to choose is an important step, and will largely depend on your reasons for immigrating into the US as well as your intentions for immigration.

Immigrant visas are designed for people who wish to make the US their permanent residence. If you wish to stay and work in the US or if you are interested in getting your US citizenship, an immigrant visa may be right for you. However, there are a limited number of these visas available. If there is no visa available when you apply, you may be placed on a waiting list until a visa becomes available. Non-immigrant visas are much easier to obtain and usually do not involve waiting lists. However, many of these visas do not allow you to live and work in the US for extended periods of time. Instead, these visas are designed to allow visitors into the US temporarily for specific purposes.

While US visas can be broadly divided into immigrant and non-immigrant visas, each visa type also has its subcategories. If you are interested in US immigration, you need to consider the specific type of visa you may qualify for. For example, there are specific nonimmigrant US visas for specialty occupations, tourist visitors, business visitors, medical travel, government officials, students, exchange visitors, fiancées of US citizens, media professionals, religious workers, temporary workers, and so forth. Categories for immigrant US visas include immediate relatives of US citizens, special immigrants, employer-sponsored immigrants, and family-sponsored immigrants.

It is important to choose the right visa to apply for, whether you are applying for an immigrant or non-immigrant US visa. There are many US immigration resources which can help you select the right visa. Applying for the wrong visa can mean delays in your application. It can also mean entry into the US without authorization to do what you intend to do in the US. For example, if you wish to study in the US, it is important to apply for US visas which allow you to live and study in the US during your course program. Otherwise, you may not qualify for school admission.


Copyright 2010, American Immigration Center