Immigrants to the United States often find certain terminology within immigration that can be a bit confusing or hard to understand. A good example is the way some immigrants mix up specific visas and their overall immigration status — while these two areas have some overlap, they are not the same thing. Another example is for many immigrants, the terms “work visa,” “green card,” and “permanent residency” are easily mixed up and used incorrectly. A immigrant can think that they need “green card,” which is more difficult to obtain but really just need a more temporary “work visa.”
At Buhler Thomas Law, PC, we’re happy to provide numerous immigration attorney services, including non-immigrant and immigrant visas and many related areas. We’ll also ensure all our clients have a full understanding of the processes they’re taking part in, including any terminology they need to know. Again, what are the differences between visas and overall immigration status, and what else do you need to know about these two? Here’s a general primer.
Within the world of immigration, a visa refers to a specific document issued by the United States that grants an alien the right to enter the country for a specific reason and for a specific period of time. Visas can be issued for business, pleasure/tourism, education, medical treatment, and other reasons.
There are more than 20 different types of visas that fall under these categories, so it’s important to make sure you’re applying for the right one — and that you meet all the requirements for it to be issued. For example, a student visa will require evidence of enrollment in an educational institution, while a business visa will require evidence of your business dealings in the United States.
Your immigration status, on the other hand, is your general classification within the United States immigration system. This will take into account things like how you entered the country, how long you intend to stay, and what your current circumstances are.
For example, someone who has entered the United States on a student visa would have student status, while someone who has obtained a work visa would have employment status. Your status can also change over time — for instance, someone with student status may eventually transition to employment status if they find a job in their field after graduation.
The key difference here is that your status refers to your general classification within the immigration system, while your visa refers to the specific document that granted you entry into the United States. The visa itself will typically contain information about your status, which is why the two concepts are often confused.
It’s important to understand the distinction between these two concepts, as your status can affect things like your eligibility for certain benefits, your ability to change status in the future, and more. In part two of our series, we’ll go over some basics on expiration dates, obtaining a visa and more.
For more on this important subject, or to learn about any of our immigration law services, speak to the team at Buhler Thomas Law, PC today.