A Green Card and Non-immigrant Visa, the first two terms, often confuse the traveler. They are often used interchangeably and often incorrectly. Many people have mistakenly applied for both a tourist card and a Green Card without having read the requirements carefully. Here is a quick review of what you need to know about these two kinds of visas.
A Green Card is issued by the U.S. Department of State. You can get a green card either while visiting the USA or outside the country. There are three types of Green Cards: visitor, student or spouse/common-law partner. You cannot apply for a green card or visa without having to apply for a tourist visa.
If you have a green card, you can enter the country without having to apply for a visa. However, when you leave the country, you still need to apply for a visa. To be able to leave the country without a visa, you must have a valid passport or a visa number that can be used to leave and return to the USA. Visas are only valid for specific countries. Some examples of these countries are: China, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, North Korea, Peru, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela. Visitors must also have an immigrant visa before leaving the USA.
To leave the USA, you must also have a valid travel itinerary. This means you must be travelling from a destination in the United States to another destination outside of the United States, regardless of whether it is across the border or not. For example, if you have a flight ticket to San Diego, California and you wish to visit Mexico, then you cannot just leave the flight, go to Mexico and expect a visa there.
You will need to present a valid United States visa or a valid travel itinerary when travelling outside of the USA. These are the only items of proof that you require if you want to leave the country without a visa. When visiting Mexico, for example, you will need to show a valid visa in order to rent a vehicle, visit the Mexican consulate and obtain a tourist card. There is no other requirement.
If you do not have a green card, then you can still visit the USA. You will not need a visa in most cases. However, some visa types do require you to have one (such as student visitor card). Visa types that require a green card are generally those associated with international education opportunities such as those offered by the United Nations or the Global Food Program. A student exchange or internship program may also require you to have a valid visa number.
Can I travel with a green card and no passport? It is possible for you to enter the country without a visa. In most cases, you will be required to have proof of citizenship, as well as proof of residence within the United States. Some airlines, for example, offer airfare discounts to those travelling with a green card. However, there are limits to these offers and it is best to check with your airline to see what the requirements are.
If you are travelling to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean Islands, you can use a temporary card that is good for that purpose. These cards are called International Travel Cards. This type of card is usually valid for a specific period of time, such as five days or 30 days. You can also use them when travelling between countries, though it is recommended that you use a permanent card if at all possible. If you need a special type of card to bring money to Canada or to stay there, contact the nearest office of the Canadian Border Services or visit their website to find out more.