Archive for the ‘USA Green Card Lottery’ Category

I’m Undocumented in the US. Can I apply for the Green Card Lottery?

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Overview

Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for a Green Card through the Green Card Lottery. Although they may be able to apply during the registration period, they will eventually be disqualified when they apply for a visa.

Undocumented immigrants are people who are in the United States without proper immigration documents justifying their presence in the country.

There are two general varieties of undocumented immigrants:

  • Those who entered the United States without first obtaining a visa and
  • Those who entered the U.S. with a visa, but that document expired before they left the country.

For more information see our blog about what undocumented status is.

How the Green Card Lottery Works

The Green Card Lottery is an annual Green Card giveaway designed to diversify the numbers of immigrants coming to the U.S.

A Green Card is a type of visa that allows a person to come to the United States to live and work for as long as they want. Certain conditions must be met to maintain this status, however.

Green Card holders can eventually apply for citizenship. Citizenship is the ultimate goal for many Green Card holders in the U.S. and the restrictions that apply to Green Cards are non-existent with full citizenship.

Most people who apply for the Green Card Lottery do so outside of the United States through a U.S. consulate or embassy.

Suggested Pathway of Immigration

There is a general pathway that the United States government prefers immigrants to take on their way to the United States. Variation from this pathway often leads to the accumulation of unlawful presence.

Unlawful presence and undocumented status are linked together (the first being the act, the second being the status). With unlawful presence it makes it much more difficult to apply for immigration benefits in the U.S.

Below is a brief summary of the steps to immigration that the U.S. prefers:

  1. Application for a temporary visa
  2. Immigrant leaves the U.S. to apply for more permanent immigrant arrangements
  3. Application for a Green Card in the United States
  4. Move to the U.S.
  5. Apply for citizenship after statutory period of time.

Potential changes in Immigration Law

Recent talks and dealings in Washington, D.C have heralded the possibility of a dramatic change in immigration policy in the United States.

Much of the legislation in discussion has been focused on a pathway to permanent residency and a green card for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.

This means that within the next couple of years there could be a very serious shift in how undocumented immigrants are handled in the immigration system.

For more information how the legislation will affect the Green Card Lottery, please see our blog on the Immigration Reform.

 

 

How Will You Know You Have Been Selected for the Green Card Lottery?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Registrants for the Green Card Lottery find out whether or not they have won in May of the year following the lottery registration.

However, visa selection is a different matter and is addressed by the Visa Bulletin, a publication made available by the U.S. State Department.

Registration

Registration in the Green Card Lottery is the most important step in the entire process because without proper registration, there is no chance of winning.

After an applicant registers, they will be presented with a web page with a number on it. This number is called the confirmation number.

This number cannot be replaced in any way, so it is highly advised that you not only print the screen out into a file on your own computer (or digital information storage device) but also print out a paper copy of the number.

Any attempt to recover this number by trying to register again will negate both applications.

Checking the Winners

On May 1 of the year immediately following the registration period, registrants may log on to the official Diversity Visa Lottery page maintained by the Department of State and check their status.

When a registrant enters their confirmation number in the appropriate field they will then be given another number. This second number is effectively their place in line.

The number states the region from which the applicant comes and a number. This will become important in the next section.

Keep your confirmation number safe throughout the entire process.

The Visa Bulletin

The State Department’s Visa Bulletin is a monthly publication that tells immigration petitioners when they are ready to apply for a visa.

A Visa is the immigration document that will allow someone into the United States as a Permanent Resident.

A Permanent Resident (also known as a Green Card holder) is someone who is allowed to live and work in the United States indefinitely. This is the ultimate goal of the Green Card Lottery.

Here’s how the Visa Bulletin works for Green Card Lottery Applicants:

There is a table with the regions on one side and beside them are numbers.

Applicants are to find their region (found in the number given when one checks their status in May) and then look immediately to the right at a number.

If the applicant’s number is less than the number on the Visa Bulletin, they may then apply for a visa.

If there is no number next to the region name, but rather the word “CURRENT” that means that the State Department is no longer giving out visas for those people from those regions.

When Will the Green Card Lottery Begin in 2013?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The Start of DV 2015

This year, 2013, the Diversity Visa Lottery 2015 (DV 2015) will begin.

This program is also commonly referred to as the Green Card Lottery.

The lottery gives about 50,000 green cards to immigrants every year who come from countries which don’t typically send many immigrants to the U.S.

The Department of State, the governmental organization that runs the lottery, has not released a solid date for the start of this year’s lottery. However, if past lotteries are any suggestion of a pattern, the next registration period should begin in early October and end in early November.

Other Currently Active Green Card Lotteries

Though a new Green Card Lottery is beginning in 2013, there are already extant lotteries still going on.

DV 2013 – This Diversity Visa Lottery had its registration period in the fall of 2011 and winners were selected in the spring of 2012. This is the last year that winners of this particular lottery will be able to apply for visas. At the end of the year, DV 2013 will be considered officially closed.

DV 2014 – For the Diversity Visa Lottery that began in 2012, this year is when the winners of the lottery will be selected. On May 1, 2013, registrants could log on to the State Department’s website to see if they had won the lottery. The last year in which winners of this lottery may apply for visas is 2014.

Requirements Changes for DV 2015

Most of the time, the requirements for entry into the Green Card Lottery are the same. However, there is a certain amount of variation every year.

Nationalities that are allowed to enter the lottery change because they are based on the immigration numbers of the past few years.

There are many countries which consistently remain on this list, such as Canada, China, India, Mexico, the Philippines and the United Kingdom, but some countries may be added or removed from the list.

Currently, the State Department has not released their revised list of designated countries, but it will be made available before the start of the registration period.

Other Important Dates

Among other important dates or time-frames to keep in mind are:

  • Day to check status. This date is relatively stable and occurs on the first day of May the year after the registration period. For those registering in 2013, they may check to see if they have won the Green Card Lottery on May 1, 2014 unless otherwise specified.
  • Initial Visa Applications. The applications for the actual visas will be sent out during the summer of the year following the registration period. For those registering in 2013 and who win in 2014, they should look to get an application package during summer or fall of 2014. See below about visa packages.
  • End of the Lottery. A lottery program lasts only two years and in the later part of 2015, the State Department will cease giving out visas for DV 2013.

Visa Bulletin and the Diversity Visa

When registrants log in to the State Department’s website to see whether or not they have won, they will be given a code which represents their region and, effectively, their place in line.

They can then compare their code with the listing in the State Department’s Visa Bulletin to estimate the amount of time they will have to wait until they can apply for a visa.

How to Apply for the Green Card Lottery

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Introduction: What is the Green Card Lottery?

The Green Card Lottery is an immigration program in the United States that distributes 50,000 green cards to immigrants every year.

Green Cards, otherwise known as Permanent Resident Cards, are immigration documents that accompany Permanent Residency, an immigration status.

With Permanent Residency an immigrant has the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely.

The Green Card Lottery is one of the quickest ways to immigration to the U.S. and the registration period is coming up.

Eligibility

Before starting the process of registration it is important to determine whether or not one is eligible.

All immigration options have some form of preliminary eligibility assessment, but fortunately the Green Card Lottery has probably the least number of requirements of any of the options.

Immigrants only have to show that they meet two requirements: one for education and one for location.

The education requirement states that applicants must have at least a high school education. The sole exception to this requirement is if the immigrant belongs to a profession which required two years of training and they have had two years of experience on top of these two years of training.

The Green Card Lottery is only available to people from certain countries. Immigrants in the U.S. tend to come from a few countries and the lottery aims to help people who are not from those countries immigrate to the U.S.

Therefore the State Department puts together a list every year of the countries with the highest immigration numbers to the U.S. This is called the designated countries list. People who are from one of those countries are not allowed to enter the Green Card Lottery.

There is an exception to this rule, though.

A person could be from one of the designated country and still apply for the Green Card Lottery if one of their parents or their spouse is from a country not on the designated list. They simply claim their parent’s or spouse’s country of origin.

If both of these requirements are fulfilled an immigrant can move on to registration.

Registration

Application is not the word used when referring to entering the Green Card Lottery, rather registration is the correct term.

Immigrants register for the lottery during a period of time which normally falls between early October and early November.

Registrants log on, fill out the relevant form, attach digital file versions of their photographs (of them and their dependents) and then submit the form.

When registration is complete the registrant receives a confirmation number. This is a very important part of the process and must be kept safe. There’s no way to replace this number if it is lost.

What next?

On May 1 of the year following the registration period, applicants are allowed to check their statuses on the State Department’s website.

Winners of the Green Card Lottery are then to apply for a visa for entry into the United States or adjust their status if they are already inside of the country.

What Is the Green Card Lottery Process?

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Overview of the Green Card Lottery

The Green Card Lottery Process can be defined as the steps that one takes to receive Permanent Residency in the United States through the Department of State’s Diversity Visa program.

Every year, the Department of State offers 50,000 visas to qualified people from countries with low immigration numbers to the United States in recent years.

Winners of the Green Card Lottery are then given the opportunity to apply for a visa to the U.S.

Permanent Residency (the ultimate goal of the Green Card Lottery) is an immigration status which gives the recipient the right to live, work, study and travel throughout the U.S. for as long as they care to do so.

Below, we will discuss some of the major benchmarks in the pathway to Permanent Residency through the Green Card Lottery.

Registration

Registration for the Green Card Lottery is the first step in the process.

The registration period normally occurs from early October to early November of each year.

The name of the Green Card Lottery is usually the letters “DV” followed by a four digit number representing the year it will be two years from the registration period.

For example:

  • If the name of the lottery is DV-2013, the registration period took place in 2011.
  • The next registration period will occur in 2013, therefore the name of that Green Card Lottery will be DV-2015.

Registration for the Green Card Lottery involves filling out a form online and showing initial eligibility.

Initial eligibility for the Green Card Lottery is very simple compared to other immigration programs and is composed of two parts:

  • Education. Applicants must have a high school education. Exception: two years of experience in a job that took two years to train for is acceptable.
  • Location. Applicants must be from an accepted country which is not on DOS’ list of designated countries. Designated countries are nations which have a large number of their citizens immigrate to the United States. The DOS keeps a list of designated countries on their site.

Confirmation Check

After an applicant has registered, they will receive a confirmation number.

This number serves to identify the applicant when the lottery drawing takes place.

It is very important to save this number because it cannot be replaced or retrieved. If it is lost, there is no way to get it back.

On May 1 of the year following the registration period, applicants should go to the Diversity Visa website to check their status.

When they type their confirmation number into this website, the site will then tell them whether they have won or not.

If they have won, they will proceed to the next step.

Visa Package

Winners of the Green Card Lottery will be sent visa packages.

These packages are to be filled out and sent to the Kentucky Consular Center.

If the visa package is accepted and the interview is successful, the applicant will then receive a visa.

It is very important to file one’s visa application as soon as possible as the number of visas available is quickly assigned.

Moving to the United States

The visa allows an immigrant to come to a U.S. port of entry where they then apply for entry.

If they successfully enter the U.S. they will then receive a Permanent Resident Card in the mail within a few months.

What Is a Permanent Resident?

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

A Permanent Resident is an immigrant in the United States who has been granted permanent status within America.

Permanent Residents may live, work, study and travel freely throughout the 50 United States and other territories.

Permanent Residency is quite different from other work visas, which are granted on a temporary basis to foreign nationals.

Other work visas or work permits are subject to periodic re-assessment, whereas Permanent Residency does not expire as long as the Green Card holder complies with the requirements for maintaining status in the U.S.

Green Card

The Permanent Resident Card

The Permanent Resident Card itself is the document that shows that you have the rights associated with Permanent Residency.

This document is also traditionally called the Green Card because it is often rendered on green paper.

There are many different ways to apply for a Green Card in the United States. Below are the three most popular pathways to U.S. Permanent Residency:

  • The Green Card Lottery. This program is easy to qualify for and is often preferred to the other options because it isn’t so in-depth. There are a limited number of visas given out for this category, however.
  • Green Card through Family. If you have a close family member already in the United States you may be able to apply for a Green Card because of your relationship.
  • Green Card through Work. If you can secure a job in the U.S. you might be able to get a Green Card through that job.

If you get a Green Card through Family as a spouse of a U.S. Permanent Resident or citizen, you will be issued a conditional Green Card.

Conditional Green Cards are slightly different than other Green Cards in that they will expire in two years instead of the standard ten years.

If you fail to apply for a Permanent Resident Card before the expiration of your conditional Permanent Resident Card you may have your status revoked.

The U.S. government retains this policy to protect the immigration system against fraud and marriages of convenience.

Full Permanent Resident Cards can be renewed every ten years, but there is no penalty to allow the document to expire.

Citizenship

Immigrants who want to eventually become citizens in the U.S. must first get a Permanent Resident Card. However, with that document in hand it is only a short matter of time before they may be eligible for full citizenship.

Full citizenship in the United States enables an immigrant the ability to do a number of things they could not do as a Green Card holder, such as:

  • Vote in federal elections
  • Work for the U.S. government
  • You cannot be deported for any reason unless you are found to have fraudulently applied for citizenship.

Get started on your pathway to citizenship today and apply for Permanent Residency through the Green Card Lottery!

The Green Card Lottery Is Coming!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The Green Card Lottery is coming soon! The lottery is expected to be conducted sometime in October and could spill into November.

While this may seem to be a while out for some, there is no reason to delay the preparation of your registration. Registration can be quick and easy with our service and if there are any delays you can quickly remedy them before they balloon into serious problems during the registration period.

What is the Green Card Lottery?

The Green Card Lottery, otherwise known as the Diversity Visa Lottery is a yearly immigration program that allows people from all over the world a chance to immigrate to the United States even if they don’t have any family members in the country and they don’t even need to prove they have a job offer.

Approximately 50,000 people win the Green Card Lottery every year and those winners are distributed over every continent and many different countries.

How Does the Green Card Lottery Work?

Registration for the Green Card Lottery occurs in October and November every year. If you register successfully you will be given a confirmation number.

On May 1 of the following year you can log onto the State Department’s website and use your confirmation number to see whether or not you have won the lottery.

If you have won you will receive an application package for a visa to the United States from the Kentucky Consular Center by August of that year.

After you properly apply for a visa you will be interviewed, fingerprinted and admitted into the United States of America.

What are the Requirements?

There are barely any requirements for the Green Card Lottery compared to other visa categories. The Green Card Lottery really only has two conditions that must be met in order to be entered into the lottery itself.

  • You must be a national of an approved country.
  • You must have either a high school education or two years of experience in a field which required two years of training.

After these requirements are met you can enter into the Green Card Lottery. However, the actual visa application will have its own requirements that must be met. These mostly have to do with criminality.

There are some exceptions to the country rule and there are many other posts on this blog which address these exceptions.

Does the Green Card Lottery have a Future?

Recent talks in the United States Congress have led some to speculate on whether or not the Green Card Lottery has a future.

Although generally supported by liberal representation in the legislature, Democrats may sacrifice the program for the sake of the current undocumented worker issues in the country.

However, this subject is so contentious and the Congress so obstructionist, it is doubtful that it will be able to put together any sort of immigration bill that will eliminate the Green Card Lottery this year.

There will be a Green Card Lottery this year, but the real question is whether or not it will still run in subsequent years.

Top Five Green Card Lottery Tips

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Checking Status

After you have registered for the Green Card Lottery you will be presented with a confirmation number by the Department of State. The number will appear as a page in your browser. This number is very important as it identifies you as a registrant.

In spring, specifically on May 1 of the year following your registration in the Green Card Lottery you may then log onto the Department of State’s website to check if you have won the lottery. If you have won, you will then proceed to the next stage: the visa application process.

When to Apply for a Visa

Generally, in the United States immigration system, immigrants are to file for petition before applying for a visa to the US. The petition is effectively a document which asks the government for permission for an immigrant to come to the US. However, the Green Card Lottery effectively skips this step and you will have permission to apply for a visa as soon as you win the lottery.

After you have won the Green Card Lottery you can apply for your visa as soon as your receive the application package from the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC).

Application Photographs

The photographs required for the application package for the Green Card Lottery are very specific and insist upon parameters very strictly. Photographs must be of a certain size, color, pixel density and even dictates how you should face the camera.

The best way to have these photographs taken is by a professional photographer who is used to taking passport photographs.

Application Requirements

There are really only two application requirements for registration in the Green Card Lottery, but it is important to gather documents that show that you meet these requirements for when you have to apply for the visa itself.

For the country-of-origin requirement you will need to produce some sort of documentation that shows your affiliation with a particular country. This could be a passport, a birth certificate or some sort of immigration residency document.

To prove that you meet the required education requirements you should be able to produce a diploma or degree. If you meet the work exception you should be able to show (through time cards or paystubs) that you trained for two years and have had at least two years of experience in your field.

Preparing for a Visa Interview

There are perhaps two major tips to keep in mind when going to your visa interview:

  • Dress for Success. Imagine your application for an interview is like a job interview for a position that you really want. You want to appear professional and interested in becoming a Permanent Resident of the United States.
  • Bring Important Documents. Many of the documents you will use in your application will simply be photocopies, but when you attend the actual interview you should bring the documents with you in their original forms.

Prepared with this knowledge you’re only that much closer to becoming a Permanent Resident of the United States.

Remove Conditions from Green Card

Friday, June 14th, 2013

The United States immigration programs place high regard on keeping families together, but at the same time is very concerned with controlling immigration fraud. That is why there are conditional green cards.

Generally, if you immigrate with the Green Card Lottery, you can have your spouse come with you on the same visa, negating any need for a conditional green card. However, it may be more convenient for you to immigrate to the US first and then have your spouse follow you after you become better established.

Conditional green cards are given to spouses who have been sponsored to come to the United States with their corresponding partners. The purpose of this document is to ensure that the couple is not engaging in a marriage of convenience, an immigration fraud scheme where two people become married only to get immigration benefits instead of to build a life together.

You will be given a conditional green card upon entry to the United States and then 90 days before the second anniversary of your entry to the United States you will have to apply for the removal of conditions from your green card if you wish to stay in America.

Eligibility

You must be eligible to remove the conditions of your green card and fulfill these requirements:

  • You must be married to the same person for the entire duration of the conditional status.
  • You can also apply to remove the conditions of your green card if you are widowed.
  • Another exception is if you were divorced, but the marriage was true.

Form I-751

In order to apply for the removal of the conditions on your green card, you will have to file Form I-751, Application to Remove Conditions on Green Card. This application must be filed within 90 days of the second anniversary of the issuance of your conditional green card.

Green Cards and Citizenship

The Green Card is an immigration document that is proof of an immigrant’s right to live, work, study and travel throughout the United States at will. Although the Green Card expires every ten years, one’s status as a permanent resident does not expire. It is a good idea to renew one’s Green Card whenever it expires or is lost so that you have a document that shows that you are in the United States in a fully legal status.

Although the government does not require permanent residents to carry their Green Cards with them everywhere, they are necessary for applying for jobs and government benefits.

After five years you may be eligible to apply for citizenship. With citizenship you will have the right to vote in federal elections, hold an American passport and the US government has absolutely no right to deport you.

Applying for citizenship involves filing Form N-400 with the USCIS, taking some basic knowledge test and taking an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Civil Surgeons and the Green Card Lottery

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

The Green Card Lottery process is slightly different from other immigration pathways to the United States, but there are many similarities, such as the use of a Civil Surgeon.

Knowing every part of the visa process to the United States better prepares immigrants for a smooth transition to their new home country.

Though you may not have to deal with a civil surgeon right away during the visa application process, by becoming familiar with them now, you can be better prepared for that step in your transition.

What is a Civil Surgeon?

A civil surgeon is a medical doctor in the country who has been qualified to conduct medical exams for United States immigration (USCIS). In order to become a Civil Surgeon, doctors must apply using the prospective civil surgeon process on USCIS website.

Civil surgeons must conform to certain guidelines in their examinations as according to the Center of Disease Control. This organization regulates the technical instructions for examinations, tuberculosis detection, vaccinations, assessment of mental disorders and substance abuse, syphilis and Hansen ’s disease and any further updates.

The primary job of a civil surgeon is to ensure that incoming immigrants will not pose health issues upon their entry to the United States.

When Will I Use a Civil Surgeon?

Every immigrant will at one point in their application will have to have a medical examination performed by a civil surgeon. The dual purpose for this requirement is to make sure that a person is healthy enough to become a permanent resident and that they won’t bog down the health system of the United States.

Reasonably healthy people with the usual battery of vaccinations can expect to be examined quickly and to be accepted.

How Do I Find a Civil Surgeon?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a convenient civil surgeon locator on their website. Immigrants looking for a civil surgeon in the united states can search by ZIP code (which will return the nearest civil surgeon) or can select a state (which will return all civil surgeons in that state.

What Kind of Documentation Will I Have to Give the Civil Surgeon?

When you reach the stage in your application where you need to visit a civil surgeon it is a good idea to gather your medical records in case the civil surgeon may need to see them. These records may include:

  • Vaccination records
  • Records of surgery
  • History of contagious diseases
  • Mental health histories

The interviewing USCIS officer will be able to more accurately tell you what information you will need to bring with you.

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