29.08.2017 Feature Article

U.S. Visas: What Is An Immigrant Visa?

U.S. Visas: What Is An Immigrant Visa?
29.08.2017 LISTEN

In this article, we will consider what is an immigrant visa and the main elements of an immigrant visa. We will also consider the main distinctions between an immigrant and a nonimmigrant visa and the class of persons who are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa.

What is an immigrant visa?
An immigrant visa is a type of visa issued to foreign nationals which entitle them to permanent residence in the U.S. The holder is usually issued a Green Card upon entry to the U.S. A Green Card gives the bearer the right to live and work in the U.S., travel in out of the U.S. without too much hassle, sponsor certain family members to join them, and if all goes well after a few years, apply for a U.S. citizenship.

Immigrant visa distinguished from a nonimmigrant visa

An immigrant visa is different from a nonimmigrant visa with regard to the length of stay and permissible activities allowed on the respective visa. An immigrant visa entitles the holder to live permanently in theU.S. without restriction as to the length of stay. The holder may engage in virtually every legitimate activity in which a U.S. citizen may engage.

A nonimmigrant visa holder on the other hand may remain only up to the duration of stay allowed and may engage only in activities consistent with the visa classification. If a nonimmigrant fails to comply with the conditions of his or her stay, the person is said to have violated his or her nonimmigrant status. A person violates his or hernonimmigrant status if he or she fails to depart at the end of the stay allowed, or engages in unauthorized activities. If any of these conditions occur, the person may be subject to removal from the U.S. or other measures.

Who can apply for an immigrant visa?
To be able to apply for an immigrant visa, you must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident relative. You may also be sponsored by a prospective employer. The family member or prospective employer may file a petition on your behalf with the relevant U.S. authority. Once the petition is granted, you will be eligible to apply for the relevant immigrant visa named in the petition.

You could also apply for an immigrant visa as a special immigrant, an entrepreneur immigrant, an orphan or adoptee of a U.S. citizen or through the DV lottery program.

In this article, we discussed what an immigrant visa is. We also discussed the key elements that set an immigrant visa apart from a nonimmigrant visa. Finally, we briefly considered other types of immigrant visas and who could apply. In our next article, we will consider persons who could apply for an immigrant visa and the different categories of family-based immigrant visas.

Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on U.S. immigration law. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information. The writer is an immigration law consultant and a private legal practitioner in Ghana. He advises on Ghana, U.S., UK, and Schengen immigration law. He works for Acheampong & Associates Ltd, a law firm in Accra. He may be contacted at [email protected]