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Immigrant Visa VS Non-Immigrant Visa

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 25/04/2023

When applying for a visa to enter the United States, a person will inevitably learn about the available visa types. The most common types of visas are immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. One can quickly feel overwhelmed when confronted with the numerous types of visas and the numerous forms and procedures associated with each type. Therefore, a great deal of importance is placed on selecting the correct visa form based on the type of visa. The following article provides a summary of the primary distinctions between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa.

Immigrant Visa

Few people are granted an immigrant visa who are citizens of India. In most cases, individuals who wish to apply for an immigrant visa to the United States of America must submit a petition signed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They are only eligible to apply for an immigrant visa if enough people sign a petition in their favour. The applicant grants permission not only to visit the country of destination but also to look for work there and potentially settle there permanently if they are granted an immigrant visa. However, suppose the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not maintain a physical presence in the area where one must sign a petition. In that case, the applicant must submit form I-130 to the USCIS Chicago lockbox via mail.

The fee structure for this category of visa is distinct from others. Applicants seeking this type of visa must pay a VISA fee of $165; this fee went into effect on February 1, 2013, and has been in place ever since. On the USCIS website, you can learn more about the kinds of people exempt from paying the fees. Applicants who believe they should be granted an immigrant visa under exceptional circumstances can present their case to the USCIS office in Delhi, which treats each case individually and listens to applicants' arguments about why they should be granted the visa. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decides the case's outcome, and the criteria that define what qualifies as an exceptional circumstance are mentioned on their website.

Applicants must also undergo the necessary medical examinations to obtain an immigrant visa. The examinations need to be performed by a physician the panel has approved, and the consulate will provide instructions on booking an appointment with that physician.

Non-immigrant Visa

Non-immigrant visas are the most common type of visa. A wide variety of trips require them, including vacations, business trips, medical trips, and even trips to continue one's education in another country. For example, suppose an Indian citizen wishes to travel to the United States. In that case, they will need to obtain either a non-immigrant or immigrant visa. In addition, an Indian national must show and prove to the consular officer that they have strong ties to their resident country and intend to return after they have completed the purpose of their visit.

This is in contrast to the requirements for an immigrant visa, which qualifies the holder for permanent residence in the United States.

The following categories of non-immigrant visas are made available by the United States of America:

1. Visa for Business Travelers and Tourists

This visa is designed for short-term business trips, as well as trips for medical treatment, tourism, or recreation and pleasure.

2. Work Visa

This visa allows you to work temporarily in the United States as a non-immigrant. The immigration laws of the United States govern it.

3. Student visas

They are granted to applicants who wish to pursue higher education or vocational training in the United States on a full-time or part-time basis. The exchange visitor visa is a type of visa granted to applicants participating in an officially recognised exchange programme in the fields of education, science, or the arts.

4. Transit visas

They are granted to applicants whose onward and immediate travel plans require them to stop in the United States while en route to their final destination outside the country.

5. Religious worker visa

People who wish to enter the United States temporarily to carry out religious work are eligible to apply for a religious worker visa, one type of temporary worker visa.

6. Domestic employee visa

A domestic employee visa is granted to individuals following an employer to the United States as a personal or domestic servant. In addition, a non-immigrant media visa is available to foreign journalists and representatives of foreign media outlets.

The primary idea behind a non-immigrant visa is that the duration of the visit, regardless of why it's being undertaken, must be limited and only temporary. However, an immigrant visa is typically only applied for in extraordinary circumstances and grants the holder permanent residence in the destination country. If the purpose requires an extension, in some cases, it may be entertained. Still, an immigrant visa is generally only filed for in exceptional circumstances.

Dual Intent Visas

The dual intent visa class enables holders of non-immigrant status visas to enter the United States to change their immigration status to that of a permanent immigrant at a later date. This opens the door for individuals holding visas, such as H-1B professionals, to enter the United States while simultaneously applying for legal status as permanent residents (Green Card status). In addition, non-citizens who fall into the E, H-1, or L non-immigrant categories are permitted to enter the country and continue their status as non-citizens while applying for permanent resident status.

To sum everything up

Be aware that the success of your visa application depends on your ability to demonstrate sufficient ties to your home country in addition to meeting the requirements of whichever visa category you are applying for if your goal is to make a short-term visit to the United States as a non-immigrant student, scholar, or in another category. It is true regardless of the visa category to which you are applying. You may be asked about the context of your trip to the United States while being interviewed for a visa.

Before beginning the process of applying for immigrant status, you should conduct research and consult with an immigration attorney about the various options available to you before taking any actions that bring you closer to applying. For example, suppose you are a student or scholar at UC Berkeley. In that case, discuss the implications of an application on your student or scholar status with a BIO adviser as soon as possible.


Information last updated April 23. While this information is sourced reliably, visa requirements can change. For the most current visa details, visit the official Consulate/Embassy website.

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