Did you know that there are more than 13 million green cardholders in the United States? Despite the fact that the two terms are used interchangeably, there is a big difference between a visa and a green card.

That begs the question of “what is a visa” and “what is a green card”. It is also important to be aware of the fact that there are multiple types of green cards as well as different types of visas. While it might seem confusing, you’re in luck.

You’ve come to the right place to learn everything you need to know about the difference between a visa and a green card and their types. Continue reading to learn more.

What Is a Green Card?

What Is a Green Card

A green card is an identification card for residents and it shows that they’re residing in the United States as legal residents. It also allows them the ability to work while residing in the United States. It was originally introduced to the immigration process going back to the years after the conclusion of World War Two.

Once you’ve attained a green card in the United States, you’re considered by the government to be a lawful resident. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the country or if you’ve been there for a while and applied from within.

Attaining a green card also has an impact on the amount of time you’re allowed to spend inside of the United States. The only exception to that is if you commit a crime and are found guilty.

How Do You Apply for a Green Card?

There are a few different routes that you can take when applying for a green card in the United States. The first approach you can take is through work. You can also apply for a green card through the green card lottery. The last main route that you’re able to take to apply for a green card is through your family.

There are a variety of requirements that come into play, but there is a group of core requirements that are relevant to all applications.

First, you must be eligible for one of the immigrant categories that are listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act. You’ll also need to have a qualifying immigrant petition filed and approved for you and your immigration case.

Another requirement is that you’ll need an immigrant visa available to you immediately and you need to be admissible into the United States of America. Click here to learn more.

What Is a Visa?

esta visa

Visas are a vital thing to have for anyone that wishes to travel within the United States. Visas are usually in the form of a passport stamp. In order to secure a visa for traveling in the United States, you’ll need to apply for one ahead of time.

Once you’ve applied, if you’re approved for the visa it will be issued by the home country of the traveler rather than the United States. It is important to remember that having a visa isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be allowed into the country.

There are two different types of visas that you need to be aware of. They are immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas work in a way that allows the person who is granted the visa to stay and retain lawful permanent residence in the United States. Once you’ve been approved for an immigrant visa it makes the process of attaining a green card much quicker and easier.

You should be aware that while immigrant visas help with the green card process, they’re difficult to obtain. Most of the time an immigrant visa is dependent on a successful petition on your behalf by a United States citizen. This is the case unless you win the green card lottery.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visas are common for people that wish to travel to and remain in the United States for a set amount of time. This could be a trip to the United States for work or for leisure and traveling.

The majority of the time, a non-immigrant visa is not going to qualify a person for applying for legal residence in the United States. The most common purpose for non-immigrant visas is for tourists, students that are studying abroad, and people who travel to the United States for business.

Applying for a Visa

visa vs. passport

No matter which visa you’re applying for, the application needs to be done through either the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. The process for applying for one type of visa versus the other is different.

For immigrant visas, you’ll need to apply using a form. You shouldn’t submit the form until after you’re invited by the embassy for an interview. While you wait for the interview you’ll want to file petitions if filing on work or family grounds, choose someone to sponsor you, and then pay the fees for your visa application.

The person who sponsors you will need to be at the final meeting with you before you’re officially approved for your immigrant visa.

Non-immigrant visas also require you to fill out a form, but that form also comes with a specified fee. The fee is either $160, $190, or $205.

The amount is dependent on what tier you fall under. From there, you’ll have your visa interview and submit all of the relevant documents for the process.

Once you’ve completed those steps, you’ll enter a waiting period. This waiting period could be as short as a couple of days or as long as a few months.

Now You Know the Difference Between a Visa and a Green Card

When it comes to the difference between a visa and a green card, it is important that you’re up to date on the application process and the purposes of each. Green cards are an application for permanent and legal residency inside of the United States. There are a few different ways to get a green card, though the easiest is winning the green card lottery.

Visas are travel documents that grant you permission to travel to the United States. An immigration visa is the first step towards obtaining your green card, while a non-immigrant visa is most common with international students, travelers, and business people.

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