Green cards, work visas, immigrant visas, HB-1 visas. These terms are often used interchangeably and, sometimes, incorrectly to describe the document that verifies that a non-citizen is allowed to enter the United States for stated purposes. This can be confusing for people who are looking to enter this country and for companies who want to bring in talent from other countries. A solid understanding of these terms is need in order to align goals with what the U.S. government has to offer. If you ever have questions about the the visa process, a Tampa business immigration attorney from Cotney Construction Law can help.
Green Cards vs. Visas
To an outsider in this process, these terms appear to be interchangeable and to a certain degree, they are. However, there are multiple visas for a variety of purposes and green cards have one specific purpose. A green card is an immigrant visa that allows an individual to establish permanent residency in U.S. Green cards also allow individuals to work in the U.S. and travel freely outside of the U.S. Green cards expire after a 10-year period. After that, green card holders can apply for another green card or for U.S. citizenship. Green cards can only be revoked if the individual violates immigration law. Also, green card holders can sponsor visas for family members.
Apart from green cards, there are over 20 types of nonimmigrant visas that allow individuals to enter the U.S. for a variety of purposes. This includes temporary working arrangements, medical procedures, travel, and education. Nonimmigrant visa holders can only be in the country for the period of time stated on their visa and must either re-apply for a visa or leave the country prior to the end of that period. Typically, nonimmigrant visa holders maintain permanent residency in another country.
It’s important to note that it is much more difficult to attain a green card than it is to attain a nonimmigrant visa. The U.S. government only grants a limited number of them per year and have stringent requirements. Many green card holders receive their green card via a family member, a special immigration status, or through company sponsorship.