What’s the Difference Between A Temporary Visa And A Green Card? 4

Non-Immigrant Visas vs. Green Cards for Foreign Spouses

A temporary visa (also known as a “nonimmigrant visa”) is a short-term pass into the United States. The amount of time you are allowed to remain in the States will depend upon the type of visa you secure. For example, a K-1 Visa is a temporary visa requested by a U.S. Citizen for a foreign fiance. The K-1 allows the foreign fiance to remain in the States for 90 days to marry the petitioning citizen and apply for permanent residence. It should be noted that because the U.S. federal government does not recognize same sex marriages, a same-sex partner living outside the U.S. would not qualify for the K-1 Fiance Visa.

Other temporary visas such as those for work or for students can be renewed as needed. Temporary visas are most commonly requested by those vacationing in the States as well as students and business travelers.

A green card on the other hand is essentially permission to live and work in the U.S. Green card holders are those who plan to permanently move to the United States and can travel in and out of the U.S. with few restrictions. Those applying for a green card typically include foreign spouses and other family members as well as foreign employees, refugees and those seeking political asylum.

While there are a few green cards without an expiration date, most are good for 10 years and then must be renewed through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department (USCIS). Some green cards are also issued on a conditional basis (i.e., marriage). These are typically good for two years and then the holder can apply for an unconditional 10-year card.

Deciding what type of visa you should apply for can often be a complex issue. For more information about immigration procedures, we recommend you take a look at a book we have reviewed: Immigration Made Simple


  • Really good and informative post!! I am glad to read this post.

  • Pamela

    I have a close friend who is here on a eb5 investor visa and I am wondering how much time must pass until he will be given a green card (permanent residency). He has been in the US for a little over a year and the terms of the visa remain more than satisfied.

  • HoraceJones

    Pamela, if your friend is in the United States on an immigrant investor visa, I would suggest that he seek advice from an attorney regarding the turnaround time for him to get permanent residence. This is something that should be discussed with the regional center and checked by the attorney before investing.

  • folami

    if your green card expires and you are in the process of renewal and you have to travel, what kind of temporary visa do you need?