What is the difference between a green card and visa?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2022 | Immigration |

If you want to travel to or move to the U.S., you may have considered getting a green card or a visa. Although both avenues can provide entry into the U.S., these two immigration documents are different.

One reason many people get confused is that the majority of people who have a green card originally entered the country with a visa. However, not everyone who gets a visa will also get a green card.


There are two types of U.S. visas: a non-immigrant visa and an immigrant visa. If you have a non-immigrant visa, you can visit the U.S. to work, go to school, conduct business or for other specific purposes. But you must leave by your departure date.

An immigrant visa lets you live in the U.S. permanently. You must first get a visa before applying to get a green card.

Green card

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a green card, or Permanent Resident Card, is a document that lets you permanently live and work in the U.S. You can usually receive a green card for employment reasons or if you have a close relative who is already a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. For example, you may be able to get a green card if you have a parent, child or sibling already in the U.S.

If you intend to stay in the U.S. permanently, you should plan on applying to get a green card. Visas cannot grant you permanent residency in the U.S., and you should only use one for temporary purposes.