The Difference Between Nonimmigrant Visas and Immigrant Visas

Note: The 2023 Diversity Visa Lottery is now open and closes November 9, 2021.

Visas exists to provide foreign born individuals the right to reside in the United States for an extended period of time.  The US government typically grants two types of visas: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. As you likely expect, there is one major distinction between these two visa types:

Immigrant visas: Issued to those who seek permanent residence in the United States after fulfilling visa requirements.

Non-immigrant visas: Issued to those who are planning to enter the United States on a temporary basis (for reasons such as tourism, work, studying, or medical treatment). 

Besides this clear difference, what should you know about immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas?

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas are granted to non US born individuals who plan to become citizens of the United States. To avoid confusion, common synonyms for immigrant visa include:

  • Permanent resident
  • Green card holder
  • Resident alien
  • Immigrant

Once immigrant status is granted, individuals with immigrant visas are granted the right to live anywhere in the United States, along with most other privileges US born citizens are provided. There are several routes one can take to secure an immigrant visa, including sponsorship from an employer or family member. For a detailed look at specific types of immigrant visas, be sure to check out our recent blog post on the subject. 

Nonimmigrant Visas

After nonimmigrant visa status is granted by the US government, individuals with non-citizen status are granted the right to enter the US on a temporary basis. Once their allotted time period expires, they are then required to depart the United States. An individual can be granted a non-immigrant visa for a variety of reasons (tourism, business, work, or school), but it is important to keep in mind that they must remain active in this endeavor throughout their entire stay. For example, if an individual is granted a nonimmigrant visa for schooling purposes, they must remain enrolled in school in order to properly uphold the terms of the visa. Before applying for your nonimmigrant visa, you will also want to plan to demonstrate your intentions to return to your home country after the time interval expires. For a detailed look at specific types of nonimmigrant visas, be sure to check out our recent blog post on the subject. 

Elizabeth Anu Lawrence Can Help You Through the Visa Application Process

If you or a loved one is uncertain how to proceed with the immigration process, choose an experienced firm like the Law Office of Elizabeth Anu Lawrence to give you the help you need.  Please give us a call at 443.352.3201. Skype and telephone consultation are both available to clients.

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    Law Office of Elizabeth Anu Lawrence, LLC.
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  • Phone: (443) 352-3201

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