US Visa Versus Green Card

While one cannot pit a US Visa against a Green Card (they’re effectively just different steps in a process which ultimately terminates at citizenship) for the purpose of this blog we will examine the salient differences between a Green Card and a US non-immigrant visa.

For the sake of a visual comparison here is a compare and contrast table between the two immigration statuses. As you can see below, the Green Card is a far more stable status than just a United States Visa and is hence why it is so preferred.


Benefits: Green Card US Visa
Basic human rights while in the United States? Yes Yes
Temporary? No Yes
Permanent? Yes No
Employment Authorization? 1 Yes Depends
Travel throughout the US? 2 Yes Depends
Study at an American university? 3 Yes Depends
Path to citizenship? 4 Yes No
Access to American social benefits? Yes No
Can be revoked at any time? 5 Yes Yes


  1. Some non-immigrant visas allow for employment authorization, but they are few and are limited to a specific time limit. Green Card holders can work freely in the United States indefinitely.
  2. While non-immigrant visas do not explicitly limit a person from travelling in the United States, their visa may have been granted based on some program (such as school or work) which may hinder a person’s travelling aspirations.
  3. Foreign students must apply for a student visa to study at a university in the US. Permanent Residents, or Green Card holders, need only apply for acceptance to the learning program.
  4. Most visitors with non-immigrant visas must leave the country before they can re-enter. However, Green Card holders can apply for citizenship after about five years.
  5. Any immigration status whether a visa or a Green Card can be revoked at any time, however, it is far more unusual and difficult for the government to take away the benefits of a Green Card.