Although visas and green cards are terms often discussed together, or even used interchangeably, they are very different types of immigrant authorizations. There are several fundamental differences between the two, and a lawyer could help you weigh the benefits of visas vs. green cards in Wheaton. If you are considering applying for either a visa or a green card, you should consult with a skilled immigration attorney who can help with your case.

Overview of Visas and Green Cards

There are several key distinctions between a visa and a green card. In basic terms, a visa is legal authorization for someone to enter the United States, while a green card gives someone permanent residency status to live and work in the country. A visa can be a precursor to someone obtaining a green card.

What are the Two Main Groups of Visas?

The two main groups of visas are immigrant and nonimmigrant. An individual who is issued an immigrant visa can apply for a green card, which would allow them to live and work in the U.S. permanently and eventually become a naturalized citizen. A nonimmigrant visa, on the other hand, allows someone to enter the country and stay for a limited time only. However, a person who holds a nonimmigrant visa can often apply for an extension.

Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas in Wheaton

While nonimmigrant visas are typically issued on an application basis, individuals seeking to obtain an immigrant visa must file a petition to be granted entry into the country. There are far more barriers to obtaining an immigrant visa than someone who is just applying for a nonimmigrant visa.

Also, depending on the country the individual is coming from, they could qualify for the Visa Waiver Program and may not be required to obtain a nonimmigrant visa in advance of their trip. Some standard nonimmigrant visas include student, fiancé (or K-1) visas, religious worker, exchange visitor, and visas for representatives of the foreign press, known as the I-1 visa.

What are the Circumstances to apply for an Immigrant Visa?

The circumstances in which someone may qualify for an immigrant visa are somewhat limited. In most cases, the person petitioning for a visa needs secure sponsorship from a U.S. company that they intend to work for, a current green card holder, or someone who already has citizenship.

Permanent Resident Cards

Once someone obtains a green card to live in Wheaton, their lawful permanent residency will generally continue in perpetuity. Some exceptions would be if the green card holder is convicted of certain crimes or breaches the provisions of their permanent residency status, in which case their green card can be revoked.

A person who leaves the U.S. and takes up residency in a different country would also lose their green card status. Green card holders enjoy many of the same legal privileges as citizens do and can obtain work without restrictions. This also means that individuals with lawful permanent residency status have certain obligations, such as compliance with federal, state, and local laws, as well as paying taxes.

Talk with a Wheaton Attorney About Applying for a Visa or Green Card

If you or a relative are exploring visa vs. green cards in Wheaton, it is a good idea to talk with an immigration lawyer who could provide guidance regarding the options available. An attorney could examine you or your family member’s eligibility for particular types of visas or advise whether pursuing lawful permanent residency is possible. Call now to speak with an experienced attorney about your immigration case.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Receive updates on immigration law changes that can affect you