Difference Between Immigrant Visa and Non-Immigrant Visa

The passport serves as your identification abroad while the visa grants you permission to enter a foreign country. Every country has a different visa policy, some of which do not even require them. Visas can be broadly classified into immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

In this article, we simplify the differences between the both with respect to the visas offered by USA. 

What Is Immigrant Visa?

Foreign nationals who wish to live and work permanently in the United States apply for immigrant visas from a U.S. consulate or embassy. In most cases, a relative or employer sponsors the individual by applying with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Certain applicants like investors, workers with extraordinary capabilities, and a few essential immigrants can petition on their behalf. Once the application is processed, it is sent to the appropriate overseas consulate or embassy for further processing and eventual immigrant visa issuance.

Before the immigrant visa expires, the prospective immigrant must present the immigrant visa at a port of entry into the United States. Once the immigrant visa and related documents have been examined and approved by a CBP(Customs and Border Protection) Officer, the intended immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident.

What Is Non-immigrant Visa?

Nonimmigrant visas, also known as temporary visitor visas, are issued to foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States temporarily for tourism, business, medical treatment, or certain types of work. The government decides which type of visa is required based on the purpose of the travel. 

For either a tourist (B-2) or business (B-1) visa, an individual typically submits a direct application to the American consulate or embassy abroad. However, if you intend to work or study in the United States, before requesting a temporary nonimmigrant visa, you must have the appropriate authorization and supporting documentation.

Difference Between Immigrant Visa & Non-immigrant Visa

Immigrant Visa

Non-Immigrant Visa

Immigrant visas are required for foreign-born people who want to settle permanently in the US

Foreign-born people who want to travel to the US temporarily can apply for a non-immigrant visa from the US government

Individuals with immigrant visas are permanent residents and have the right to live in the country

Typically, the holder of a nonimmigrant visa must leave the country within a predetermined time period

Immigrants in the United States are granted the majority of the rights and privileges enjoyed by citizens, including the freedom to live, work, and study anywhere in the nation

When entering the United States with non-immigrant status, your rights are limited

The most typical way to immigrate to the United States is through sponsorship by a family member or employer

Non-immigrant visa applications can be made by tourists, individuals in business, temporary workers, patients who need to receive treatment in the US, and students traveling for a variety of reasons

There are several types of immigrant visas available

Non-immigrant visas vary in type depending on the purpose of the visit

Expired immigrant visas can be submitted for renewal without the holder leaving the country or facing issues

Non-resident individuals must leave the US before the non-immigrant visas expire to avoid any kind of trouble 

Depending on the type of visa, obtaining immigrant status can be challenging and time-consuming

Usually, non-immigrant visas have a faster process compared to immigrant Visas

What Are Dual Intent Visas?

Dual intent visas are non-immigrant visas that can turn into immigrant visas. 

A foreigner is said to have immigrant intent if they are traveling to the United States with the goal of staying and residing there permanently. 

Anyone who hopes their job in the United States will become permanent can benefit greatly from dual intent visas by having their employer sponsor them for a green card.

Examples Of Dual Intent Visas


Indian nationals who want to travel to the US must obtain a non-immigrant or immigrant visa. Immigration visas give applicants the freedom to travel, work, and establish permanent residence abroad. 

An Indian national with a non-immigrant visa must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have close ties to their resident country and intend to return once they have served their purpose, unlike immigrants who qualify for permanent residence.

Immigrant Visa Vs Non-Immigrant Visa Related FAQs

H1B is a dual intent visa. It is a non-immigrant visa that can be converted to immigrant status.

No. Once you obtain an immigrant visa, you must enter the US within the stipulated time and obtain a green card to work and reside there as a citizen.

Student visas are granted to individuals who are visiting the US for the purpose of pursuing higher education. They are non-immigrant visas.

Depending on your type of visa, you can stay in the US as long as you are permitted. However, you can’t overstay your visit as it is a punishable offense. 

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