It is not uncommon for immigrants to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of immigration law and related legal terms. Understanding the distinction between Visa and Status is essential for legally staying in the United States. Although most people use these phrases interchangeably, there is a significant difference between them under immigration law. Our team at FIDE Law covers the differences between the two.
What Is a Visa?
The United States government issues visas to foreign nationals who wish to enter and remain within the country for short or long periods. Visitors need to apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the country. Also, to apply for a particular visa, you’ll need to provide documentation proving that you meet the requirements for that visa. The United States issues visas for either non-immigrants or immigrants.
• An Immigrant Visa is issued to someone who has gained approval for permanent residence in the United States due to the Diversity Visa Lottery, also known as the green card, or an immigrant petition.
• The United States issues Non-immigrant Visas to foreign nationals who seek to enter the country temporarily for jobs, education, business, or tourism purposes. Examples are, H-4, L-1, L-2, O-1, or F-1.
Does obtaining a visa ensure entry into the United States?
No. Even if you have a visa, it doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed into the country. You must first pass an inspection by a customs official. During the inspection, the customs officer will ask questions to verify that your entry is for a visa-approved reason.
A visa holder gets status at the U.S. port of entry when you are legally allowed to enter the country. Upon admission, customs officers create an I-94 entry record as status documentation. The I-94 card displays your admission date, visa classification, and authorized stay length in the United States. The I-94 form is crucial since it states how long you may stay in the United States.
What Happens When Your Visa or Status Expires?
Once your visa has expired, you will be required to depart the country. You may apply for a new visa or an adjustment of status at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your native country. You risk deportation and being barred from reentering the United States for a certain period if you overstay your visa.
Contact our lawyers at FIDE Law if you need assistance streamlining your immigration process or if you need to adjust or lengthen your current immigration status. We are an advocacy company here to protect your rights and the safety of your loved ones. Get in touch with us today.