Differences between visa and Green Card

A visa is an official document issued by US consular authorities: there are different classifications within visas and they work for different situations.

The Green Card holders, or Green Card, is a document that certifies an immigrant as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in the United States. Permanent residency allows immigrants permission to live and work in the United States legally. In most cases, an employer or relative is the one who applies for permanent residence for another person.

In the case of relatives, a US citizen can apply for permanent residence through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). For example, for family members such as sons or daughters, under 21 years of age, spouse and parents if the citizen is over 21 years of age.

However, in addition to family ties and employers, refugee or asylum status is also a way to apply for permanent residence in the country.

Immigration inspectors from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security are in charge of admitting immigrants as LPRs. Three months after the process, the now permanent resident will receive their Green Card.

The difference between a residence visa or Green Card and a non-immigrant visa is that with the first the citizen obtains an official immigration status in the country, obtains certain rights and responsibilities, and it is also one more step to obtain the naturalization as a US citizen and on the other hand the second is granted to citizens who visit the United States for short periods of time, for different reasons such as tourism, business, medical treatment, studies.

In addition, there are different types of immigrant visas to work in the United States:

  • EB-1: For individuals with extraordinary ability in science, arts, education, business, sports, etc.
  • EB-2: For professionals with graduate degrees, or individuals with exceptional aptitude in the arts, sciences, or business.
  • EB-3: For professionals, skilled workers, and others.
  • EB-4: For special immigrants such as religious workers, employees of the United States Government abroad, retired personnel of international organizations and minors protected by United States courts, among others.
  • EB-5: For business investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 and meet certain investment requirements.

Learn more at: https://www.usa.gov/espanol/residencia-permanente

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