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Immigrant Visa VS Non-Immigrant Visa

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Last Updated On :
  • 13/03/2024

When you visit a foreign country, the visa is what gives you entry permission, while the passport provides international identification. There are different visa policies in every country, including no visa requirement at all. The U.S. offers two types of visas – immigrant and non-immigrant visas. An immigrant visa is issued to people on their way to becoming U.S. citizens, which is not the case with non-immigrant visas.

In addition to checking visa formalities, make sure you have travel insurance as one of the essential documents. Tata AIG's travelling Insurance covers different travel risks, medical risks, and journey disruptions. Moreover, the flight cancellation insurance feature is beneficial if your flight is cancelled due to emergencies such as sickness or other unexpected events.

Read on to learn more about the immigrant visa vs nonimmigrant visa and the difference between an immigrant and a non-immigrant visa.

What is Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa?

To know more about immigrant visas vs non-immigrant visas, let us first understand them individually.

  • Immigrant Visa

  • Foreign-born individuals must obtain an immigrant visa to make the United States a permanent home.

  • Permanent residents, immigrants, green card holders, and resident aliens are synonyms for immigrant visas.

  • Most of the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens are available to immigrants in the United States, including the right to work, live, and study within the country.

  • Sponsoring a family member or employer in the United States is the most common way to become an immigrant.

  • Other humanitarian programs or refugee or asylum status may allow individuals to become permanent residents.

  • It can be difficult and lengthy to gain immigrant status, depending on the path chosen.

  • Non-immigrant Visa

  • The United States government grants a non-immigrant visa to foreign-born individuals who wish to visit the country temporarily.

  • A nonimmigrant visa usually requires the holder to depart the country within a specified time frame.

  • Tourists, business people, temporary workers, patients who need to get treatment in the US, and students visiting for various reasons are eligible to apply for non-immigrant visas.

  • You are limited to using your status when entering the U.S. with non-immigrant status.

  • Those with student visas, for instance, must continue to attend school to maintain their status.

  • Applicants who are returning to their home countries are usually issued non-immigrant visas.

Difference Between Non-immigrant and Immigrant Visa

For qualified foreign-born individuals who wish to spend an extended period in the country, the United States government grants both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.

Listed below is the fundamental difference between immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

  • A foreign national must apply for an immigrant visa to live permanently in the United States.
  • Visitors to the United States with nonimmigrant visas are usually tourists, medical patients, business people, temporary workers, students, or others with similar purposes.

Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa – Who Needs It?

  • There are several ways to obtain an immigrant visa, such as family relationships, employment, and refugee status.
  • There are 32 types of immigrant visas the US government issues.
  • Immigrant visas are more difficult to obtain and require more attention from the government.
  • To avoid delays and complications, choose the right type of immigrant visa before applying.
  • Family members, spouses, or employers will likely file for one on your behalf.
  • Visas for immigrants also expire, but you will not have to leave the country to renew them.
  • It usually takes more than ten years to build up the necessary life experience to qualify for citizenship with green cards.

Non-immigrant visa vs Immigrant visa - Who Can Get Both?

  • For short-term stays in the U.S., you can apply for non-immigrant visas.
  • The United States recognises 20 categories of non-immigrant visas.
  • It is important not to overstay your visa. For each visa type, there is an extension deadline and instructions on how to apply.
  • Leaving the country before the deadline expires is necessary to avoid any trouble.
  • It is possible to convert some non-immigrant visas into permanent immigrant visas. Dual intent visas fall under this category. The H-1B visa is among the most well-known for skilled foreign professionals. Experienced workers can work in the U.S. with this visa and decide whether to apply for a green card.
  • Dual intent visa types include:
  • The E visa (for investors and treaty traders, as well as certain occupations for Australians)
  • H1 visas (skilled worker visas).
  • L visas (intracompany transfers for managers, executives, and professionals with specialised knowledge).

Consult an immigration lawyer if you wish to obtain permanent residence while on one of these visas. Additionally, your company’s HR department can provide information on starting the process since your company must sponsor you.

Immigrant vs Non-immigrant Visa - How to Prepare for a Visa Interview?

  • One thing in common between both kinds of visas is visa interviews. It will be necessary for you to discuss your history and your reasons for coming to the United States at the U.S. embassy.
  • Depending on your visa, you will need to bring certain documents.
  • Be honest when answering all questions. Lying in a visa interview can result in a lifetime ban from entering a country!
  • Once you have completed the interview, you will receive your visa quickly.
  • After receiving your visa packet, you will know whether or not you passed.
  • The visa packet must be handed over to customs when you reach the country to be processed.
  • You will receive your permanent residency card from the government at the address of your sponsor if you have applied for permanent residency.
  • After that, you can begin the process of becoming a citizen.

Is a Visa Required to Enter the US?

The Visa Waiver Program is available to certain citizens. For 90 days, you can visit the United States for tourism or business without a visa.

Despite that, you will need certain documents to enter the country. Your needs:

  • Tickets for your round-trip flight out of the country
  • If travelling by land, proof of financial solvency and residency outside the country is required.
  • Valid machine-readable passport for a minimum of nine months
  • I-94W form filled out. Land travellers must pay the border processing fee if they arrive by land.

This program does not allow travellers to change their visa classification or stay longer than 90 days. The only option is to leave the country and return, barring rare circumstances such as seeking risk deportation or asylum.


Now you know all the differences between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa. If you are an Indian citizen planning on visiting the US, you will require either a non-immigrant or immigrant visa. Immigration visas allow applicants to visit, work, and obtain permanent residence in a foreign country.

Unlike immigrant visas that qualify for permanent residence, an Indian national must show the consular officer that they have strong ties to their resident country and intend to return once they fulfil their purpose.


Information last updated June 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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