Marriage Green Card vs. Visa,
What Is the Difference?

Visas and Marriage-based Green Cards are quite different in nature. When applying for a Marriage Green Card, It is crucial to understand the differences between a Green Card and a visa. Let’s look into detailed information about Green Card vs. Visa.


I. What is a Visa?

A visa is a travel document allowing individuals to travel to the United States, whether for work, travel, or other authorized purposes. The visa applicant will apply through the U.S. embassy or consulate office prior to their arrival to the United States. Typically, visas can be separated into two categories: Non-immigrant visas and Immigrant visas.

Non-immigrant visas are more common and allow for the visa holder to enter the United States for work, travel, education, or for other authorized purposes. These non-immigrant visas typically have a specific deadline with a designated return date.

Immigrant visas are more difficult to obtain, but allows for the visa holder to enter the United States for the purposes of permanently residing there. This is generally applied through the sponsorship of a close family relative, already residing within the United States.


II. What is a Green Card?

U.S. Green cards are technically visas as well. However, a Green Card holder is not only allowed to permanently reside within the United States, but also is allowed to lawfully be employed as well. Upon eligibility and approval, U.S. Green Cards are granted after arrival into the United States. Possessing a U.S. Green Card will ultimately allow the Green Card holder to apply for a U.S. citizenship as well after three to five (3-5) years. Furthermore, although the U.S. Green Card is considered a permanent residence card, in most situations, they will need to be renewed once every ten (10) years.


III. What are the differences between a Marriage Green Card and a Visa?

Among the various types of Green Cards, marriage Green Cards are yet another type of Green Cards for spouses of U.S. citizens and U.S. Green Card holders. Although each situation may have their own considerations, there are multiple pathways to apply for a successful marriage Green Card.

The most obvious difference between the marriage Green Card and a visa is the time receipt. Visas are typically received before traveling into the United States, and the marriage Green Card is only provided for those that have applied, and are eligible, and generally received after arriving into the United States. However, there are further distinctions that should be noted. The following are further differences noted for visas:

  1. Visas are generally required prior to entry into the United States
  2. Visas are generally assigned a departure date for exiting the United States
  3. Visas are generally a stamp in a passport, rather than a physical card like Green Cards
  4. Visas are not eligible for a pathway to U.S. citizenship
  5. Non-immigrant visas are not eligible for a pathway to a U.S. Green Card
  6. Immigrant visas can be eligible for a pathway to apply for a U.S. Green Card