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What Is The Difference Between A Family Based Immigrant Visa And a Green Card?


There is no difference between an immigrant visa and a green card. An immigrant visa is a green card. Usually people refer to immigrant visas when they get their visa stamp in the passport. If somebody applies for a green card from abroad, either by having a family member or their employer petition for them, they will go to the American embassy and apply for a green card at the American embassy, in order to come to the US. They get a stamp in their passport, and that stamp is called an immigrant visa, because they don’t get the actual plastic green card until they arrive in the US. Green cards (the actual plastic card) can only be obtained locally in the United States. If somebody gets an immigrant visa stamp in their passport and they arrive in the US, they get their green card after they arrive in the US. The bottom-line is that there is no difference between the family based immigrant visas and the family based green cards, this is the same thing.

What About The Terms “Unlimited” And “Limited” Family Based Visas, What Is That Actually?

Unlimited or limited based visas refer to the unlimited or limited number of green cards that the American government can issue every year. When we talk about unlimited family-based numbers, if we’re talking about immigrant visas, there is no limitation to people who are qualified as immediate family members. In immigration law, people who can qualify as immediate family members are the spouse of a US citizen, parents of a US citizen, and a child of a US citizen under the age of 21. Only these three categories don’t have limitations as to the number of people that can be admitted. There are an unlimited number of green cards for these individuals. The remaining immigrants fall under limited number.

The US government has a limited number of green cards that they can issue every year, and there are different numbers for each category. For example, a child of a US citizen over the age of 21 is not an immediate family member, according to immigration regulations. Even though it sounds ridiculous, according to the law, that family member is not an immediate family member for immigration purposes. The reason they don’t call that an immediate family member is because that child falls into the category of son or daughter of a US citizen. If the child is over the age of 21, whether they’re married or single, they fall under separate categories. A son or a daughter of a US citizen who is married will wait much longer than a son or a daughter of a US citizen who is not married, because they are in separate categories and each category has a limited number of green cards that the US government can issue every year.

Another category of limited family-based green cards is children and spouses of green card holders, and sons and daughters of green card holders over the age of 21. Green card holders cannot petition for their parents—they can only petition for their spouse or children, either under the age of 21 or over the age of 21.

There is also another category of limited family-based green cards, which is brothers and sisters of US citizens. This category of individuals waits the longest, usually about 13 years wait time.

Only a US citizen over the age of 21 can petition for a parent or sibling family member.

Overall, what immigration means by limited and unlimited family-based visas is the type of family relationship individuals have with their US citizen family member, and the number of green cards that the US government can issue to each category.

What Constitutes Family In A Family Based Immigrant Visa?

We can consider our aunts and uncles our family, and they are our family. But unfortunately, a US Citizen cannot petition for their aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. These individuals can still come to the United States on green cards, but they would be derivative beneficiaries, which is another complicated immigration category. A family member is a spouse, a child under the age of 21 or over the age of 21, married or unmarried, parents and brothers and sisters of US citizens or children under the age of 21, or over the age of 21 who are unmarried, and spouses of green card holders. These are the categories of family members that the immigration agency is able to give an immigration benefit to.

For more information on Family Immigrant Visas Vs. Green Card, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (646) 453-4170 today.

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