Visas vs. Green Cards in Fairfax

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to U.S. immigration law. Some people are not sure whether they need a visa or a Green Card, and what the difference is between the two. The answer depends on the situation.

It is helpful to learn more about visas vs. Green Cards in Fairfax to understand your needs and how to work toward your goals. If you have questions, need assistance, or find yourself facing a problem, you should consult an experienced attorney today.

Purpose of a Visa

A visa is a document that gives a citizen of one country permission to enter another country. Some tourists coming from countries that have a treaty with the U.S. may not need a visa to enter for a short visit, but most people entering or staying in the U.S. must obtain a visa. Some visas are similar in appearance to Green Cards, so it is understandable to confuse the two documents.

Visas can be temporary or permanent. A permanent visa is called an “immigrant visa” because it allows someone to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. Permanent visas are issued in limited quantities, so it can be easier to obtain a temporary visa rather than a permanent one.

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is an identification card documenting that the holder is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. Someone with LPR status can live and work legally at most jobs. Since ID cards were commonly printed on green paper, these identification documents took on the nickname “Green Card,” and even the federal government often uses this term to describe these cards, which are officially titled “Permanent Resident Cards.”

Green Cards, the physical plastic card, does  expire, but the status of the holder is maintained  unless that person commits a serious crime or violates the terms of their residency or otherwise violates immigration law. When comparing Green Cards to visas, it may be helpful to think of a visa as the permission and the Green Card as evidence of the permission.

Some Visas Can Make the Holder Eligible for a Green Card

Certain visas can make the person holding the visa eligible to obtain a Green Card as an LPR. The visas that qualify someone for permanent residency are various types of permanent or immigrant visas. These are often issued based on family connection or the sponsorship of an employer.

Non-immigrant temporary visas do not qualify the holder for permanent residency. However, in some cases, a foreign national in the U.S. on a temporary visa may become eligible for a permanent visa or eligible for LPR status by meeting certain requirements. For instance, the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen can enter the U.S. on a temporary visa and qualify to apply for a change of status after the wedding takes place to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Benefits of Retaining the Services of a Fairfax Immigration Attorney

The process of applying for visas and Green Cards in Fairfax is complicated, and processing can take considerable time. Many people find it helpful to work with the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer to avoid mistakes that may provide grounds for a denial.

An attorney can also explain further differences between visas and Green Cards. Comparing visas vs. Green Cards involves issues such as the type of visa involved. Generally, having a Green Card enables an individual to take advantage of many opportunities, while the opportunities afforded to a visa holder can be substantially restricted, depending on the terms of the visa.

Fairfax Green Card Lawyer

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