There are about 44.5 million immigrants residing in the United States as of 2017. One among every seven US residents is foreign born, accounting for 13.7% of the overall population of America (325.7 million people).
If you too wish to visit the “Land of Dreams,” you will first need to get your passport stamped with a US visas. There are two types of US visas, Immigrant Visa (IV) and Non-immigrant Visa (NIV). The latter is further divided into 185 sub-categories, like B1, B2, H-1B, H-2B and so on. The type of visa you should apply for is determined by the purpose of your visit to the country.
Entry Visa vs Tourist Visa
Let’s look at the differences.
What is Tourist Visa
This type of visa usually falls under the B-2 category. The B-2 tourist visa is a non-immigrant visa, issued to a citizen of another country who wishes to enter the US for a temporary visit.
What do you need a B-2 visa for:
- For a vacation
- To tour cities for leisure purposes, such as visiting Disneyland, the White House, the Grand Canyon, etc.
- To see your family
- For medical treatments
- For short study courses, such as cooking classes
- To participate in contests and social events organized by various organizations.
With a B-2 visa, you are not allowed to the followin:
- Paid performances in an event
- Seeking in any kind of employment. In fact, you are not allowed to pursue any activity that will give you remuneration.
- Full-time study
- Buy a permanent residence in the country
B-2 visa processing time
It could take a few weeks to a few months to process the visa application. It all depends on the workload at that time at the USA embassy or consulate where you’ve applied for the visitor visa.
B-2 visa duration
The maximum duration of stay permitted with a B2 visa is 180 days (6 months). However, you can extend your visa, if you need to stay longer. The extension period permitted is up to an additional 6 months.
What is an Entry Visa
The entry visa is an immigrant visa, with categories such as E-1, E-2, E-3, K-1, K-3, IR1, CR1, etc. This type of visa allows you to stay in the USA indefinitely. Individuals who are willing to work or live in America for the long term are identified as immigrants and need to apply for an entry visa or immigrant visa. People seeking permanent immigration to the USA are usually backed by an employer or a family member.
The first step is to appear for an interview for the immigrant visa, which is valid only for 6 months. You must enter the USA within this duration through a legal port of entry. Since it is a single-entry visa, you become a resident of the country on entry.
At the port of entry, your visa, passport, medical report and other documents will be checked. If the immigration officer finds anything suspicious or inaccurate in your documents, he could deny you entry into the country, or even worse, ban you from entering the USA for five years.
After successful completion of formalities, you get a conditional permanent residence card, valid for 2 years, which is as good as a Green Card. To get the permanent residence card or Green Card, you will need to file a petition to remove the conditional residency at least 90 days before the card’s expiry date.
Remember, the card cannot be renewed. In case you fail to get the conditions removed, you will lose your permanent resident status.