20+ Differences Between Visa And Green Card (Explained)

If you’re planning a trip to or a permanent relocation to the United States, you may be confused between the terms “green card” and “visa.”

Green card holders often enter the nation using a visa, although not all visa holders now have or will eventually get a green card. This tutorial will help you understand the key distinctions between a visa and a green card.

Comparison between Visa And Green Card

ParameterVisaGreen Card
Valid forEach admission is good for a total of ninety days, and it is an exceedingly unusual occurrence for a request to be granted for an extension of that length of time. The judge determines the maximum amount of time that may be spent in the facility.Ten years, with the possibility of adding even more time if it turns out that we need even more of it.
SponsorThe participant’s free choice determines whether or not they use a sponsor.To qualify for a Green Card via either your family or your place of employment, you must fulfill several prerequisites first. You may get a Green Card through either route.
PurposeYou won’t need a visa if you’re going on vacation, traveling on a business trip, or planning to participate in any form of work away program. It is to your best advantage to study the many sorts of visas and discover the perks that come with each one.However, if you wish to reside in the United States permanently (or at least for a long time), getting a Green Card is the best option for you. Because of this, you are settling on a choice that shouldn’t provide much of a challenge. After all, it depends on the activities you want to participate in and how long you intend to remain in the United States.
DurationThe length of time a visa is valid is variable. In the case of a student visa, for instance, the holder may stay in the United States just for the academic year (i.e., after graduation).If you don’t break any rules, a green card grants you permanent residency in the United States. Employment authorization in the United States is available to green card holders. A permanent resident may also apply for citizenship.
Type of copyA visa is a stamp.Green cards are another term for actual copies of several types of paper.
comparison between visa and green card

Major differences between Visa And Green Card

What exactly is Visa?

Visas are required for most U.S. visitors. Before traveling, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Non-immigrant visas enable holders to enter the U.S. for defined objectives, such as employment, school, medical reasons, or business visits, for a limited period with a stated departure date.

Immigrant visas are harder to receive; they enable permanent travel to the U.S. and are part of the green card process. This Visa must be secured before entering the U.S., and the procedure is lengthy.

Key Differences: Visa

  • It is highly suggested that visas be obtained in advance of a trip. 
  • They are necessary to enter the United States, and most of the time, they are in the form of a stamp placed inside a passport.
  • A visa does not automatically provide permission to remain for an undetermined amount of time. 
  • If you enter the country on a non-immigrant visa, it is very unlikely that you will be able to change your status to that of a permanent resident later on.
  • Although immigrant visas do not offer resident status by themselves, the process of becoming a permanent resident may begin with purchasing such a visa. 
features of visa

What exactly is Green Card?

The possession of a “green card” proves that its possessor is a legal permanent resident of the United States and is therefore permitted full employment and travel privileges within the country.

Simply put, green cards are a visa that provides permanent residency. After entering the United States, green cards are issued. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services accepts green card applications from those with immigrant visas (USCIS).

Key Differences: Green Card

  • Those who have a green card are given the legal right to remain and work in the United States of America for an undetermined amount of time. 
  • A physical card serves as the representation for this authorization.
  • Establishing residence in the United States is a requirement for obtaining a green card; there is no other path to citizenship.
  • It is necessary to get an immigrant visa to qualify for a green card in the United States.
  • A person with a green card can submit a citizenship application.
features of green card

Contrast Between Visa And Green Card


  • Visa- Typically, they only permit the holder to remain in the country for a predetermined amount of time. They are available in various forms tailored to specific needs, they can take the form of either a visa or a stamp in the passport, and they prevent the holder from becoming a citizen of the United States.
  • Green Card- Permanent residency, almost the same rights as citizens of the United States (except the right to vote and the right to federal funding), obtaining the card in the United States, having a physical card, and allowing the holder to apply for citizenship after three to five years. These are the benefits of obtaining a green card.


  • Visa- Visas are often presented as stamps or stickers affixed to the inside of a traveler’s passport. In other situations, a visa is immediately inscribed on the traveler’s passport.
  • Green Card- The dimensions and shape of a green card are surprisingly similar to those of an identification card in both the legal and the colloquial use of the term. The term “Green Card” originates from the fact that most green cards are made of plastic and have a greenish hue to them. This gave rise to the moniker “Green Card.”


  • Visa- One must first apply for a visa to enter the United States. Nevertheless, it paves the way for you to go to other countries worldwide.
  • Green Card- If you have a Green Card, you can leave the United States and travel freely to other countries.

    However, you must carry both your Green Card and the passport issued by the country where you were born. If you do not have both of these documents, you will not be allowed to leave the United States.


  • Visa- You must be a citizen of a nation that is not part of the Visa Waiver Program’s list of eligible nations. It would be best if you only briefly visited the United States (tourism, exchange visits, medical visits, etc.).

    When your Visa expires, you are required to leave the country immediately. It is required that you have no history of criminal convictions.
  • Green Card- You need to have a visa that will enable you to apply for a green card (e.g., an H1B visa). Having a close relative living in the United States would be best. You are required to have a job offer in the United States. You cannot have a history of criminal convictions.


  • Visa- Your Visa is only valid for 180 days; nevertheless, even though U.S. visas may be issued for ten years with several entries, you can still only stay in the nation for a combined period of 180 days for each entry.
  • Green Card- If you are a conditional permanent resident, then your card is valid for two years. If, on the other hand, you are a conditional permanent resident, then your card is valid for ten years. However, after ten years have passed, you will be required to renew your Green Card.


  • Visa- First, you must be granted an immigrant visa before becoming eligible for work in the United States. Obtaining an immigrant visa paves the way for permanent residency and citizenship in the United States. One example of this kind of Visa is the Visa that is granted to a spouse.
  • Green Card- You are not permitted to engage in gainful employment in the United States if you only have a visa, but you can if you have a Green Card. If you have a visa, you are not permitted to do so.

Processing fee: 

  • Visa- The fee to apply for a visa in the United States is $160; however, this does not include the processing fees, which may be significantly different from one kind of Visa to another, depending on the type of Visa that is being sought for.
  • Green Card- On the other hand, the cost of applying for a Green Card from a country that is not the United States is $1,200, in addition to any other charges that may be paid. This is the case regardless of whether or not extra costs are spent.

Processing time: 

  • Visa- The procedure of obtaining a visa to enter the United States typically takes at least five weeks and sometimes takes much more time. This is the minimum amount of time that is required.
  • Green Card- There is a potential that processing a request for a green card might take as many as three years. This is possible.


  • Visa- You will, however, need a visa to enter the United States if you do not want to remain there permanently.
  • Green Card- Have the same rights as a citizen of the United States (without voting). You are free to travel to and from the United States. After five years in the country, you can apply for citizenship. Those who want to make the United States their permanent home will find that the perks associated with obtaining a Green Card are far more beneficial than those associated with obtaining a visa.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. When a passport is reissued, what happens to any previously issued visas?

If a new passport has to be issued, the previous one will be rendered invalid and returned, while the new one will be issued immediately.

On the other hand, any visas that are now active on the previous passport will continue to be valid and may be utilized up to the expiration date of the specific Visa.

Q2. Could I utilize the Visa in my previous passport instead?

In most cases, the visas inside are also rendered invalid if your passport is invalidated for any reason, including expiration or cancellation.

Assume that any visas included in your expired passport are invalid for travel unless you have received explicit confirmation to the contrary. If you do not have such confirmation, you should treat all visas as invalid.

Q3. How long will I be absent from the United States without a green card?

If you are a green card holder and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you may travel in and out of the nation as frequently as you want, so long as you do not intend to stay abroad for more than a year at a time.

Q4. When compared to the benefits, do green cards have any drawbacks?

Foreign nationals who have obtained green cards are not allowed to cast ballots.

When it comes to supporting additional family members for green cards, green card holders do not have the same level of priority as U.S. citizens. Green cards are not automatically awarded to children of non-citizen parents.

Q5. What are the procedures for changing my status from “green card” to “citizenship?”

Being a permanent resident of the United States or a bearer of a green card is the primary qualification for filing an application for naturalization.

To be eligible for this option, you must have been a legal permanent resident of the United States for at least five years.

Q6. What exactly does it mean to be a citizen?

A citizen is a member of a political society who can participate in its affairs. When a person satisfies the legal standards set out by a country, state, or municipal authority, they are granted citizenship.

That nation gives citizens of a country certain rights and benefits. In exchange, people are obligated to respect their nation’s rules and fight for its survival against their adversaries.

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