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 CardUS Visa
Basic human rights while in the United States?YesYes
Employment Authorization? 1YesDepends
Travel throughout the US? 2YesDepends
Study at an American university? 3YesDepends
Path to citizenship? 4YesNo
Access to American social benefits?YesNo
Can be revoked at any time? 5YesYes


  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.