Immigrant vs Non-Immigrant Visas: Temporary or Permanent Stay in the US?

There is a lot of uncertainty around the issue of immigration these days, and DP Legal Solutions assists clients who are trying to sponsor family members or dealing with Visa and Green-Card issues of their own.
In general, a Visa is a permit that a country’s consulate grants to a citizen of a foreign country to come to the issuing country. For example, through its consulate in Vietnam, the U.S. Government may grant a Visa to a Vietnamese citizen so that he/she can travel to the United States.

Two classifications of U.S. Visas: Immigrant and Non-Immigrant

The U.S Department of State has classified two types of Visas: Immigrant and Non-Immigrant.
  • An Immigrant Visa (IV) will be issued for those who are sponsored by a qualified U.S. Petitioner, i.e., parents, a spouse or siblings. Without the sponsorship of a qualified U.S. Petitioner, a foreign citizen cannot be granted an Immigrant Visa, though there are special circumstances, such as those with refugee status. With an IV, the Visa holder will be issued a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) upon arrival in the U.S. Note that citizens of a foreign country cannot apply for an IV for themselves; the process must be initiated by a qualified U.S. Petitioner’s relative.
  • Non-Immigrant Visa. Unlike the IV, any foreign citizen may apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa (Non-IV) to come to the U.S for short-term purposes, such as travel or study. Once the applicant has submitted his/her Non-IV application and made the $160 payment, he/she will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S Consulate. During the interview, the applicant must show that he/she has strong ties to his/her home country and will leave the U.S at the completion of the authorized trip.

Anyone can apply for a Non-IV; not all applications will be accepted

It’s important to keep in mind that while anyone can apply for a Non-IV, not all applications will be accepted. Those who are granted a Visa upon arrival at the U.S. Border Passport Control will be allocated a period of time to stay in the U.S. The time assignment is fairly arbitrary; it may be based on a gesture, a facial expression or the trip’s purpose. In the case of Peter Luong, the owner of DP Legal Solutions who first traveled to the U.S. on a Non-IV in 2008, he was allowed to stay for just a month and a half before being required to return to Vietnam.

Non-IV status application for a Green Card

Once in the U.S with a Non-IV, someone may be eligible to apply for a Green Card (Adjusted Status) if there is a qualified spouse sponsoring him/her. A Non-IV person can marry a U.S. Citizen and the U.S. Citizen can file the Petition to sponsor his/her spouse to stay/work/live in the U.S.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review the Petition and conduct an investigation and interview the couple to determine the true nature of their relationship. If the investigators determine that the couple is entering into the marriage on good faith, not as a conduit for a Green Card, the Non-IV person will be issued a Green Card. If, however, they determine that the marriage is a ploy to get a Green Card, the applicant will have his/her Non-IV status revoked and he/she must return to the country of origin.
One of the following relationships must exist between Petitioner and the subsequent Non-IV family member if he/she is applying for a Green Card while in the U.S.
  1. S. Citizen (USC) spouse sponsoring Non-IV spouse.
  2. USC child sponsoring Non-IV parents.
  3. USC parents sponsoring Non-IV single child under 21 years old.
At DP Legal Solutions, we have helped unite thousands of families from around the globe through Immigrant Visas or the Adjusted Status processes. Contact us about your Immigration process: 510.346.5686.


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