If you’ve been thinking about immigrating to the United States, then you must have already come across the classic green card vs visa debate. What you need to know is that there are different types of visas, and different ways of getting a green card — each one made for a particular situation. It might seem like a complicated topic at first sight, but don’t worry, we’ll make it simple.
In this post we’ll compare green card vs visa to discover which one is better for each case and which will be more useful to you.
What’s the Difference Between Green Card and Visa?
Whether you’re thinking about emigrating or visiting the United States, you’ll need either a green card or a visa. Depending on your plans, you might end up using both. That’s why it’s important to know what green cards and visas are for.
What’s a Green Card?
A green card is an immigration document that gives its holder lawful permanent residency in the US. This means they can live and work here indefinitely. It will give you the ability to work, study, and travel without any restrictions or conditions.
Having a green card grants you conditional residency in America and can lead to full citizenship status if it’s renewed every ten years (or less). Sounds nice, right?
There are different situations in which someone can apply for a green card to become a permanent resident. These are some of the most common ones:
- Family-based: Probably the most popular one. You can apply for it if you have close relatives that are U.S. citizens. This includes immediate family members like parents, siblings, and children. It works for widows or widowers of American citizens, too.
- Through Employment: You can apply for a green card if you accept a job offer in the U.S., and your employer has already filed a visa petition on your behalf (or is willing to do so).
- Through Investment: You’ll need to invest at least $500,000 into a new business venture that will create jobs in America for a minimum of 10 citizens.
- Through Lottery: The green card lottery is a program that gives people from countries with low rates of immigration to the US more chances of getting green cards. It has an annual cap of about 50,000 green cards and anyone can enter as long as they’re from one of those qualified countries. However, the list is so big that almost anyone can take part in the lottery.
- For Humanitarian Reasons: You can apply for a green card if you are a refugee, victim of crimes, or have been granted asylum. It also applies for cases of abuse and human trafficking.
In the green card vs visa battle, a green card is what you turn to when you’re seeking permanent residency. However, it’s not easy to get it, so it’ll be better for you if you talk with your immigration lawyer to prepare a plan.
Types of Visa
Whether you want to visit, immigrate, or just temporarily live in the United States, you’ll need a visa. Sometimes a visa can even be the first step towards getting a green card, in case you want permanent residency.
Getting a visa is usually easier than getting a green card, which makes it ideal for moving to the U.S. as quickly as possible. However, since most of them come with an expiration date, you’ll have to be smart with your time and prepare a long-term plan.
There are many types of visa —which also means many opportunities—, but these are the two main categories that cover them:
- Non-Inmigrant Visa: This type of visa allows the holder to visit the United States and live there for a certain amount of time. How long? It depends on your activities. The type of visa you’ll need for work is not the same as the one for education, medical reasons, or business trips.
- Immigrant visa: This type of visa is given to people who want to live in the United States permanently. It’s naturally harder to obtain, but it will open the way for you to get a green card and residency without worries. It has to be obtained prior to traveling to the United States and the process for getting it is quite complex. The easiest way is usually by getting sponsored by a family member.
In the green card vs visa debate, the advantage of a visa is that it is more versatile and easier to get. Even within the areas we just mentioned, you’ll find tons of different categories with their pros and cons, so you’re better off consulting with an expert about your possibilities. The right visa might just be out there, waiting for you.
Are Green Card Holders Elegible for Medicare?
A green card grants you permanent residency in the U.S. but it doesn’t grant you any special benefits on its own. By default, having a green card doesn’t mean to have access to medicare — there are certain requirements you need to fulfill first.
The green card medicare eligibility process is pretty straightforward. In order to qualify for medicare, green card holders are required to be a citizen or to have been living in the U.S. for five years, and to have paid taxes with no breaks during that time. Then, you can get access to medicare but only by buying it from the government.
In any case, you’re always better off consulting with an expert. Every person is different and depending on your situation, you might even have unique opportunities to easily immigrate to the United States. So, don’t hold off, and talk with an immigration attorney that can help you fulfill your dreams in a new country.