Difference Between Immigrant Visa and Non-Immigrant Visa

An applicant when applying for the US visa always comes across the types of US visas which predominantly revolve around the immigrant type and the non-immigrant type. With much importance being placed on selecting the right visa form based on the type of visa, one can easily get overwhelmed with the various types of visas and the various forms and procedures involved. The below article highlights the main differences between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa.

Immigrant Visa

An immigrant visa for Indian citizens is not a very common sight. Generally such applicants availing an immigrant visa for the US require a petition signed by the U.S citizenship and immigration services or the USCIS. Only if a petition is signed can they apply for an immigrant visa. An immigrant visa allows the applicant to not only visit but also to seek employment and avail permanent residence in the destination country. If the USCIS does not have a physical presence in the location where a petition needs to be signed, then the applicant must file form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago lockbox through mail.

These type of visas have a different fee structure. Applicants availing this kind of visa need to pay a visa fee of $165 and this fee was put into effect from February 1, 2013. The type of people who do not need to pay the fees can be found on the USCIS website. The applicants who believe that they should be granted an immigrant visa under exceptional cases can present their case to the USCIS office in Delhi where cases are entertained on an individual basis. The decision of the case is in the hands of the USCIS and the guidelines as to what may constitute an exceptional case is published on their website.

Applicants availing an immigrant visa also need to undergo required medical examinations. The examinations need to be carried out by a panel approved physician and the consulate will provide instructions on how to book the appointment

Non-immigrant Visa

Non-immigrant visas are the commonplace visas and are used for everything ranging from recreational visits to medical visits to business visits and even applied for when continuing further studies abroad. When visiting the US, an Indian citizen will either require a non-immigrant visa or an immigrant visa. Unlike an immigrant visa which qualifies for permanent residence, an Indian national is required to show to the consular officer that they have strong ties to their resident country and prove to them that they intend to return after they accomplish the purpose of their visit. The types of non-immigrant visas.

The United States of America offers the following non-immigrant visas:

Business/Tourist Visa: This visa is intended for temporary business visits and visits for medical treatment or for recreation/pleasure.

Work Visa: This is a visa that allows an applicant to work temporarily in the US as a non-immigrant and falls under the purview of the US immigration laws.

Student Visas : these visas are provided when an applicant wishes to study in the US, both academically or vocationally. Exchange visitor visa wherein a visa is provided for applicants from an authorized exchange program in the field of education, science or the arts.

Transit visa: It is provided to those applicants whose continuous and immediate travel need them to stop over in the US enroute to a foreign destination.

Religious worker visa: These visas are provided to those who wish to enter the US to carry out religious work on a temporary basis.

Domestic employee visa: It is provided to personal or domestic servants following an employer to the United States. Journalists and representatives of foreign media can avail a non-immigrant media visa.

The main premise of a non-immigrant visa is that no matter the purpose of the visit, the duration is specified and temporary. If the purpose requires an extension, in some cases it may be entertained but an immigrant visa is usually filed under exceptional circumstances and grants the holder permanent residence in the destination country.

FAQs on Difference Between Immigrant Visa and Non-Immigrant Visa

  1. What is the age limit to apply for a temporary work visa?

    There is no age limit as such for applying for a temporary work visa.

  2. When can I travel after receiving my student visa?

    You can enter the US within 30 days of commencement of your study program mentioned on your I-20.

  3. Do I have to wait for my current visa to expire if I want to apply for a new one?

    No, you can apply for a new visa in advance.

  4. I want to apply for a US visa. How long must my passport be valid?

    Your passport should be valid for at least six months after your planned period of stay.

  5. Is it possible to get a visa for casual work?

    No. You should have a petition approved before your visa appointment if you want to work in the United States.

  6. What is the use of the form I-20?

    The Form I-20 is a document issued by US government approved colleges and universities. Nonimmigrant students require a form I-20 to get an M-1 or F-1 visa. This form is also necessary if a student wants to apply for a visa or pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

  7. Is there an additional fee to be paid for the Visa Application Centre service?

    No, the Visa Application Centre service is included in the visa fees.

  8. What is the difference between an immigrant visa and a nonimmigrant visa?

    An immigrant visa allows a qualified applicant with an approved petition to reside in the US permanently. A nonimmigrant visa is granted to individuals visiting the US for purposes such as business, vacation, medical treatment and more.

  9. I have a pending immigrant petition. Can I apply for a tourist visa?

    Yes, you can qualify for a tourist visa even if you have a pending immigrant petition.

  10. When can I apply for my student visa?

    Once you receive your I-20, you can apply for your student visa.


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