The difference between tourist visas and immigration visas

Many people who visit the United States become enamored by the country and decide that they want to immigrate. Many folks choose to immigrate to the U.S. using the Green Card Lottery, which is often considered to be one of the easiest ways to immigrate.

However, there are distinct differences between visa types that potential immigrants should know about.

Tourist Visas

Tourist visas are temporary visas in the United States. Generally these are given to people when they cross the U.S. border and take the form of a stamp in their passports.

When the stamp is placed on the page, the immigration officer also gives the tourist an arrival/ departure notice. This document serves to indicate how long the tourist may stay in the United States. Typically, tourists are given no more than six months’ time in the country.

The U.S. government does not allow people to switch from a temporary visa to an immigration visa. Tourists must always leave the United States before applying for a different immigration status.

Immigration Visas

Immigration visas are documents that permanent residents must receive in order to live and work in the United States. Usually, the primary immigration document is the Green Card.

There are a few different ways to apply for a Green Card such as:

  • The Green Card Lottery, which is available to many people who do not have the family or employment opportunity in the United States as others have.
  • Green Card through employment. Employers can sponsor the immigration of their employees.
  • Green Card through family. Close family members can be sponsored by their permanent resident or citizen relatives in the United States.
  • Asylum. Immigrants subject to persecution in their origin countries can apply for asylum in the U.S. and receive permanent resident Green Cards.