What is the difference between an Immigrant and a Non-Immigrant?




An immigrant is someone who has made the United States their home, and intends to stay permanently. A non-immigrant  is someone who comes to the US temporarily and will return to their country after their trip to the US ends.



What are the different types of non-immigrants?





There are many different reasons people come to visit the United States temporarily. Some visit as tourists or to conduct business. Many come to attend conferences or visit friends and relatives. Others come as students or to enroll in a training program. Ministers and religious leaders may come to the US temporarily to preach or work on religious affairs. Artists, athletes, musicians, and dance groups visit us to share their talents and entertain us. Scholars, scientists and researchers may teach, attend seminars, and exchange ideas with their colleagues in the US. Many people come temporarily to work in our agriculture industry or in our tourist industry. Others with high academic training and skills work in professional jobs temporarily. The US government has different non-immigrant status for all of these different reasons for coming to the US temporarily.



The United States government gives green cards (legal permanent residence) to people in three main categories. The first group of people who may get greencards are relatives of US citizens and legal permanent residents. Parents, children, brothers, sisters, adult unmarried sons and daughter, step-children and adopted children are included in this category. The second category of people who may qualify for greencards are employees. Their employers have petitioned for these employees to live and work in the US because they could not find a qualified US worker to fill their job.


The US government also allows people who fear persecution to become legal permanent residents. The foreign national must show either that he or she will receive cruel treatment or torture by his or her home government, or that he or she has been or will be persecuted because of her race, religion, ethnicity, political opinion, or membership in a social group. Refugees and political asylees are part of this category.


How do I get a Green Card (Legal Permanent Residence)?





How do I get a greencard through a family member?





  • The process for getting a greencard through a relative can be long and complicated. First, the relative must file an immigrant visa petition. The relative must show proof of your relationship, such as spouse, daughter, etc.

  • The next step is to be sure that there is a visa number available for you. Whether or not there is a visa available depends on your relationship to the petitioner (spouse, brother, step-son) and your country of nationality.

  • If you are in the United States when a visa is available, you may be able to apply for your green card in the US, through a process called Adjustment of Status. If you are outside the US, you may have to apply for your greencard at a US consulate.


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