Immigration laws and legal terms are often confusing and difficult to understand. With so many different terms, it's unlikely for immigrants to have a clear understanding of what every document and term means. For example, many people confuse visas with immigration status. Our team at Akula & Associates P.C. goes over their differences.
What Is a Visa vs. Status
A visa is a document issued by the United States that allows an individual to enter and stay in that country for a specific period of time. Visitors must apply for a visa at an embassy or consulate outside of the U.S. The application includes specific documents that show you are qualified to apply for a specific type of visa. An immigration status, on the other hand, is the legal status granted to an individual by the U.S.
An individual's visa determines their rights and responsibilities while in a country. For example, an individual with a student visa may be allowed to study in a country, but they would not be allowed to work unless they have a valid work visa.
There are two main types of visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant visas are issued to individuals who intend to live permanently in the United States, while nonimmigrant visas are issued to individuals who only intend to stay in the United States for a temporary period.
An individual's immigration status is determined by their visa type. For example, an individual with a student visa would have the status of "student." An individual with a work visa would have the status of "worker." An individual with a green card would have the status of a “lawful permanent resident.”
Visa & Status Expiration
The main difference between a visa and an immigration status is that a visa can expire, but an immigration status cannot.
An individual's visa can expire for a number of reasons, such as the expiration of their passport or the completion of their studies. When a visa expires, an individual must apply for a new one if they wish to stay in the country.
An individual's immigration status, on the other hand, does not expire. Once an individual has been granted a particular status, they will retain that status until their circumstances change. For example, an individual with a student visa may eventually become a permanent resident.
It is important to keep track of both your visa and your immigration status, as they can both affect your ability to stay in a country. If you have any questions about your visa or immigration status, you should contact an immigration lawyer.
How Do I Obtain a United States Visa?
There are two ways to obtain a United States visa: through sponsorship by a family member or employer, or through a refugee/asylee visa. If you have a family member who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, they can sponsor your visa application. If you have an employer who is willing to sponsor your visa application, they can also sponsor your visa.
How Can I Change My Immigration Status?
If you want to change your immigration status, you will need to apply for a new visa. You can do this by contacting the United States embassy or consulate in your home country. You can also apply for an adjustment of status if you are currently present in the United States. This is done by filing a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) without having to go through the consulate.
What Happens if My Visa Expires?
If your visa expires, you will need to leave the United States. You can apply for a new visa from the United States embassy or consulate in your home country or apply for an adjustment of status. If you overstay your visa, you may be subject to deportation and will not be allowed to return to the United States for a certain time.
Need assistance adjusting your status or obtaining a new visa? Contact our team today at (844) 299-5003 to schedule a consultation!