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Legal » Immigration » Visa-vs-status-051228
Visa Vs Status

Sudhir Shah Sudhir Shah
A Member of American Immigration Lawyers Association of USA and a practicing Lawyer of Mumbai. He is an expert on USA Immigration Laws. He provides guidance on how to prepare, apply and obtain a visa to travel to the USA upon marrying someone residing there.

Not knowing the difference could be fatal
A USA visa is a stamp placed on your Passport by an American Consulate situated outside USA. Visa can be issued only from out of USA. They cannot be issued inside USA. By showing a visa you can request an entry into USA. Merely because a visa is issued, it does not mean that the holder will be allowed to enter USA. At the border the applicant will be once again inquired about his / her intentions and qualifications to enter into USA on the category of visa which is issued to him / her and upon being satisfied about the bonafide intentions and qualifications, will be allowed to enter USA.

USA visas are of two kinds - Immigrant, for those who intend to stay permanently in USA. They can be received in 10 different ways. Five different Family Preference categories are one of them. And Non-immigrant for those who desire to enter USA for a temporary period for a specific purpose. Depending upon the purpose for which the Applicant desires to enter USA, Non-immigrant visas meant for that purpose are issued.

A Status is a privilege, which is granted along with a visa. Each visa has a status attached to it. But each status do not have a visa attached to them. If you are granted an Immigrant visa you receive a privilege to remain permanently in USA and work and study there. If you are granted a Non-immigrant Business (B-1) visa, you receive a privilege to do business-related activities in USA. If you receive a Non-immigrant Student (F-1) visa, you receive the privilege of studying in USA. If you receive a Non-immigrant Specialty Occupation (H-1B) visa, you receive the privilege to work in USA.

If you have entered USA on B-1 visa, then you cannot enjoy the privileges available to F-1 or H-1B visa holders.


However, for the convenience of aliens, USA laws grant permission to adjust Status from Non-immigrant to Immigrant or change Status from one type of Non-immigrant Visa to another and thereby permit them to enjoy another Status attached to the category of Visa to which that Status is normally attached.

If your application for change of Status is approved, then you are entitled to the privileges available under that Status, but the visa on which you have entered America is automatically cancelled. You are then in USA without a Visa and are there only on a Status. Hence, when you have changed your Status and thereafter you go out of USA, to re-enter USA, you are required to obtain Visa and for the same, in present days, one is required to apply to an American Consulate in one's own home country.

Many who marry a USA citizen or a Green Card holder or a person studying in USA on Student (F-1) visa or working there on H-1B, or other category of Visas are not aware about this distinction between Visa and Status. If your husband has travelled to USA on a Business (B-1) Visa and there he changes his Status to H-1B, as his spouse you may not be granted dependent H-4 Visa because your husband merely has an H-1B Status in USA and not an H-1B Visa.

Kindly note the differences between Visa and Status, which may prove to be vital and fatal to your matrimonial life.

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