An Immigrant Visa is issued to a foreign national who intends to live and work permanently in the United States. In such cases, a relative or employer sponsors the individual by filing an application form with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The application is then sent to the appropriate U.S. Consulate or Embassy. An intending immigrant must present the immigrant visa at a U.S. port-of-entry prior to the expiration of the immigrant visa. An intending immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident once the immigrant visa and accompanying paperwork is reviewed and endorsed by a CBP Officer.
Nonimmigrant visas are issued for several reasons. Generally, an individual applies directly to the U.S. consulate or embassy abroad for a tourist (B-2) or business nonimmigrant (B-1) visa. However, those who want to enter the United States for studying or working may require certain authorization and documentation prior to applying for a nonimmigrant visa. Issuance of a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States but it indicates that a U.S. consular officer at an American embassy or consulate has reviewed the application and that officer has determined that the individual is eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose. It will be then the CBP Officer at the port-of-entry to conduct an inspection to determine if the individual is eligible for admission under U.S. immigration law.
Green card is the informal name for an ID card attesting to the permanent resident status of an immigrant in the United States.
The steps to becoming a Green Card holder (permanent resident) depend on whether people currently live inside or outside the United States.
The main Green Card categories are: