A VISA is an endorsement granted by authorities that denotes an application has been examined and approved for the bearer to enter the country for the purpose of travel, work or study.
- A non-immigrant visa (a temporary stay as a tourist, businessman or student) depends only on your citizenship
- An immigrant visa (going permanently to another country to live) depends on your citizenship and sometimes the citizenship of a parent if you’re a minor or your spouse if you’re currently married.
A PERMIT is an endorsement granted by authorities that denotes an application has been examined and approved for the bearer to reside, work and/or study for a length of time after entry to the country that issued it and before the visa’s validity expires.
- A residence and/or work permit depends primarily on your citizenship and sometimes the citizenship of your spouse and children, if applicable
So one would need a visa to enter/exit the country within a certain time period, then acquire a permit to stay in the country beyond the visa’s expiration date. Not exiting the country before the visa expires and not securing a permit to stay beyond a visa’s expiration date essentially means you are an illegal resident. A penalty will be assessed upon leaving the country for overstaying your visa, employers will not offer you a permit and your passport will be marked until its next renewal, then recorded in a database, causing border authorities to question you upon every entry and exit.
A visa or permit granted for a specific purpose cannot be converted if your status changes. For example, a student visa/permit cannot be converted to a work visa/permit upon finishing school and getting a job. Why? Because you met eligibility and requirements, and authorities originally granted permission to the country, on the basis of study, not work. To be granted permission to work, one would need to exit the country then re-enter with the proper visa (after satisfying different rules/laws) and secure a residence/work permit upon arrival.
*Article last updated on September 5, 2013