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Green Card vs Visa: The Differences Explained

2 min read

Many immigrants come to the United States hoping for either an immigrant visa or a green card. 

When people talk about immigrating to the United States, many of them try to use “immigration visa” and “green card” interchangeably. Yet in the government’s definition, they can mean different things.

So what is the difference between a green card vs. a visa? How do you apply for them to get legal entry into the United States? Read on to find out and learn some immigration tips that may help you. 

What is the Difference Between a Green Card vs. a Visa?

The immigrant visa allows for legal entry into the United States and the opportunity to retain your lawful permanent resident status. While they begin the process for permanent resident status, they do not provide or give e resident status themselves

On the other hand, you might wonder “what is a green card?” A green card, also known as a permanent resident card, is a physical object that represents the holder’s right to permanently live and work within the United States and can only be given out after the individual in question is already in the country. Almost a million green cards get issued to immigrants each year.

How to Get a Green Card

Requirements can vary, depending on where you are from, but they must be noted by authorities at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To apply for a green card, you need to:

  • Be eligible for one of the immigrant categories as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • Have an immigrant petition filed and approved
  • Have an immigration visa available and with you
  • Be admissible to the United States

If you do want a more viable option, you can sign up for green card lottery registration. Many people find that the lottery works for their needs.

How to Get an Immigration Visa

Go to the embassy or consulate in your permanent resident card’s home country and fill out Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. But don’t submit it until you have been asked to interview.

Don’t get frustrated if you do not get one the first time around. The visa is notably hard to obtain and usually depends on a petition by a US citizen, with some exceptions. 

Decide Between a Green Card vs. Visa

The difference between a green card vs. a visa can seem so slight, but they make a big difference in how your entry into the United States and permanent resident status are going to go. No matter which route you go, immigrating is a huge milestone. Therefore, you should do everything in the application process correctly to make sure it goes smoothly.

Good luck and welcome!

We hope you enjoyed learning about green cards and visas. Check out other articles on our site if you want to read more posts like this one.

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