Difference between visas and citizenships


When a person wishes to come to America, they must go through an immigration process. That process is full of legal jargon and can cause a lot of confusion. Navigating through the law aspect of the immigration process does not have to be painful. Understanding what is needed to obtain a visa will assist anyone in the battle.

What is a visa?

A visa is an endorsement that gives a foreigner permission to enter another country. Each foreign person must obtain a visa that is granted by the government for a specific amount of time.

How long does a visa last?

This truly depends upon the visa type that a person is granted. A typical travel visa will allow a person to come to a country for up to 90 days. There are visas that allow years, but under special circumstances.

Kinds of visas

Visas come in two forms: non-immigrant and immigrant. For a non-immigrant visa, a person must go home or ask for an extension after the initial allotted time. An immigrant visa can eventually lead to citizenship. Remember, it is imperative that a person who wishes to apply for a visa meets all requirements before tackling the visa application.

Non-immigrant visa examples:

  • B-1: Athlete, business visitor, domestic employee or nanny
  • J: Au pair
  • E-3: Australian professional speciality
  • BCC: Border crossing card – Mexico
  • CW-1: CNMI-only transitional worker
  • D: Crew member
  • A: Diplomat or foreign government official
  • G1-G5, NATO: Employee of international organization or NATO
  • J: Exchange visitor, Professor, Physician, Scholar, Teacher
  • A-2 NATO1-6: Foreign military in the United States

Immigrant Visas

Immigration visas have two main categories: family and employment. The government assigns priority to spouses and children. In most cases, an immigrant spouse will be approved within one year.

What if a person stays in the country longer than their visa permits?

Unfortunately, laws were not meant to be broken. Time allotted for the visa is not meant to be overlooked. Once someone has overstayed their admissions time, they can be barred from returning to America for up to 10 years. Secondly, if permitted back into America and a visa audit is done, the current visa a person holds can be voided. Furthermore, extensions of stays or changes of status while in the US can be restricted.

What is the difference between a visa and a citizenship?

Lastly, knowing that a visa differs from citizenship is a big thing. A regular visa does not grant a person to become a citizen. If a foreigner will be coming to the country with an immigrant visa, after a certain amount of time, they may apply for citizenship. This type of citizenship is considered naturalization. Under this status, the person will still be able to be deported. A citizenship means that the person has lived in the country for the required amount of time, taken the citizenship test, and committed no heinous crimes.

In conclusion

Immigrating to a new country can be a daunting task. However, a person can obtain a visa if they are prepared to follow the rules. Remember, there is a difference between a visa and a citizenship and obey the allotted time given for the visa.


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