Category Archives: US Immigration

No More Green Card Lottery, This Year Marks the End of the Program

Less than 24 hours after Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbek, drove a rented truck along a bike path in New York City, killing eight people and injuring over a dozen more, President Donald Trump blamed what he called the “Green Card Lottery” system that allowed Saipov into the country. The incident occurred on October 31 and, on November 1, United States officials announced that Saipov had been admitted to the country on what is officially known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. President Trump said that his administration was fighting for a merit-based system.

What Is the Green Card Lottery System?

In an effort to promote immigration from various areas of the world, the Diversity Visa Lottery Program provides up to 50,000 immigrant visas to countries with low immigration rates into the United States. The program is administered by the United States Department of State. In order to qualify for the lottery, an immigrant must be a native of a qualifying country, hold the equivalent of a United States high school diploma or worked in a qualifying industry for at least two years over the past five years. Applicants must also undergo a vetting process similar to those subjected to all visa applicants.

No More Green Card Lottery, This Year Marks the End of the Program
 

Schumer Involvement

President Trump also called out Senator Chuck Schumer, blaming the Senator for his role in helping to craft the law. The law was passed under the Immigration Act of 1990 and signed into law by George H.W. Bush. At the time of its passage, Senator Schumer was a member of the House of Representatives and he helped shape the program. However, since he has been in the Senate, Senator Schumer has supported an end to the program and co-authored legislation in 2013 that would have accomplished that goal. The same bill included language that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants and President Trump has strongly opposed the passage of the law.

 

Merit-Based Immigration

President Trump stated that he wanted to end the Diversity Visa program and replace it with a Merit-Based program. This version of immigration is part of the Raise Act, co-sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. President Trump endorses the legislation which would eliminate the Diversity Visa program and cut legal immigration by half. Instead of the lottery-based system, visas would be issued on a merit-based points system. Family connections would not have a bearing on the points system. Instead, points would be awarded based on high-paying job offers, past achievements, the ability to speak English and education levels. The program is similar to what is used in Canada and Australia.

 

Family-Based Immigration

Currently, the United States immigration system is based on sponsorship. A U.S. citizen or green card holder can sponsor relatives from their home country, allowing them to move to the United States. Spouses and minor children do not need to wait for a visa number and may qualify for an immediate visa. For adult children or other relatives, however, the process is more complicated. If the relative is coming from an area with a high number of immigrants, the wait can be as long as 20 years. In 2015, one million permanent residents were admitted and 44 percent of them were immediate relatives while 20 percent entered the country through family-sponsored visas.

President Trump has vowed that the green card lottery system will end this year but has not announced whether it will be replaced with a new visa program. His administration hopes to implement a merit-based program at the same time the current system is canceled.

Share

Next Steps After Winning Green Card Lottery

After a registrant wins the Green Card Lottery they are then given the opportunity to apply for an immigration visa. However, what does a winner do after they have received their immigration visa?

Preparing to Come to the U.S.

The first thing to address when preparing to enter the United States has to do with funding one’s trip and arrival. There are several things that must be considered when saving up for one’s transition:

  • The State Department will not fund winner’s transportation to the United States. Immigrants are expected to come up with their own travel arrangements whether by air, ocean or road.
  • Immigrants will need to have enough money saved up to be able to support themselves as they search for a job in the United States. This could end up being a significant amount of money as the U.S. is one of the more expensive countries in the world. This amount must also be able to support the applicant’s family.
  • Any costs and fees associated with the actual immigration application also must be paid before the immigration visa is issued.

Once in the United States there are a number of things that need to be addressed promptly:

  • Arranging for school. Children from the ages of 5 to 18 are required to go to school. Immigrants should register their accompanying children for school as soon as possible.
  • Apply for a Social Security Card. There are at least two documents that immigrants need to get a job: their Green Card and a Social Security number. Apply with the Social Security Agency for a number and card.
  • Living arrangements. Finding a place to live is one of the first steps one should undertake. Apartments, condominiums and houses are available throughout the United States. Realtors and local real estate listings can help immigrants find living arrangements.
Share

Go to School in the U.S.

The United States is full of excellent schools and Green Card holders are entitled to use these schools as much as they can.

Not only are Green Card holders allowed to go to schools in the U.S., but also their close relatives such as spouses and children.

In order to get a Green Card one must first obtain permanent residency. This is accomplished by applying for an immigrant visa.

However, applying for an immigrant visa is not as easy as simply filing a form, one must first obtain eligibility. One such program that grants eligibility to apply for a visa is the Green Card Lottery.

As one of the most popular immigration programs in the United States, spots are limited and potential immigrants should apply as soon as possible!

K through 12

School enrollment is mandatory for children between the ages of 5 and 18. Some places allow children to end their school at 16, however, this is not in common practice.

Good grades and test scores in primary and secondary school will help children to get better jobs and enter into better tertiary schools such as colleges and universities.

Most jobs in the United States require at least a high school (12th grade) education.

Trade School

People attend trade schools to learn very specific sets of skills, typically involving some sort of manual work. Welders, mechanics and carpenters learn their professions through trade schools in the U.S.

Trade school typically begins post-graduation of high school, although some courses are taken during regular high school.

College and University

In the United States, College typically means a post-high school degree program that takes less than four years to complete. University implies degrees that take four or more years of tertiary school.

There are many excellent research institutions in the United States and Permanent Residents may attend any of them as long as they have been accepted into a program.

It has been shown through many different studies that people with college or university educations earn more money than people with only high school educations.

Share

Diversity Visa and the U.S. Government

The Diversity Visa Lottery is a very popular immigration program in the United States because it’s so much easier to get into than other immigration programs.

Other immigration visas require applicants to already have a job arranged in America or relatives willing to put them up.

But what about people who want to immigrate, but don’t have those advantages?

This is why the Diversity Visa (also known as the Green Card Lottery) exists. The basis of the program begins in the U.S. Congress, but its governmental organization is somewhat more complicated.

U.S. Congress

The Green Card Lottery is a congressionally mandated program. This means that the U.S. Congress (The House of Representatives and the Senate) insists that it takes place.

Congress also dictates how many green cards are given out and how the selection process is to be conducted.

Winners of the Green Card Lottery are randomly selected from the original pool of applicants. No one region is to get significantly more winners than another.

Eligible countries are based on immigration numbers from the five year period prior to the lottery. Countries with high numbers of immigration to the U.S. during that time will not be eligible.

The U.S. State Department

The State Department is effectively equivalent to the foreign affairs departments of other governments.

In the U.S., the State Department is responsible for the issuance of immigration visas to foreign residents. It is also responsible for the administration of the Green Card Lottery.

The State Department runs the online application service and announces all of the relevant dates for the lottery. It also publishes the Visa Bulletin which lets people know when to apply for their visa bulletins.

Together, the Congress and the State Department operate one of the most popular and admirable immigration programs in the world.

Share

Green Card Lottery and Public Charge

During the process of applying for a green card visa through the Green Card Lottery, applicants will be asked to show that they will not become a public charge after they immigrate to the United States.

The term “public charge” is a technical term used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to describe people who must go on government assistance.

This is considered to be problematic because the USCIS (among other government departments) are not in the business of giving immigration documents to people who will then immediately go on welfare.

Because of this, applicants must supply proof that they will not become public charges before they are granted an immigration visa.

There are a few different ways to show that one has the financial means to sustain oneself after immigration to the U.S. for example:

  • Bank statements that show that one has sufficient funds to take care of oneself during a job search. The U.S. can be an expensive country and as a result the USCIS may want to see a significant amount of money in one’s accounts.
  • A job offer (on paper) for a position at a U.S. based company will also suffice. A job offer shows that one will be able to immediately support oneself after immigration.
  • A signed Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) verifying that a friend or relative in the U.S. can help the immigrating individual support themselves. This form states that the individual signing will accept full responsibility for the immigrating individual’s financial stability.

If a relative or friend accepts financial support of an immigrant, their responsibility only lasts for three years.

Application for the 2015 Green Card Lottery will begin soon and although proof of financial stability is only required during the visa application (to take place approximately a year after initial registration) it is considered wise to start thinking about gathering proof early.

 

Share

The difference between tourist visas and immigration visas

Many people who visit the United States become enamored by the country and decide that they want to immigrate. Many folks choose to immigrate to the U.S. using the Green Card Lottery, which is often considered to be one of the easiest ways to immigrate.

However, there are distinct differences between visa types that potential immigrants should know about.

Tourist Visas

Tourist visas are temporary visas in the United States. Generally these are given to people when they cross the U.S. border and take the form of a stamp in their passports.

When the stamp is placed on the page, the immigration officer also gives the tourist an arrival/ departure notice. This document serves to indicate how long the tourist may stay in the United States. Typically, tourists are given no more than six months’ time in the country.

The U.S. government does not allow people to switch from a temporary visa to an immigration visa. Tourists must always leave the United States before applying for a different immigration status.

Immigration Visas

Immigration visas are documents that permanent residents must receive in order to live and work in the United States. Usually, the primary immigration document is the Green Card.

There are a few different ways to apply for a Green Card such as:

  • The Green Card Lottery, which is available to many people who do not have the family or employment opportunity in the United States as others have.
  • Green Card through employment. Employers can sponsor the immigration of their employees.
  • Green Card through family. Close family members can be sponsored by their permanent resident or citizen relatives in the United States.
  • Asylum. Immigrants subject to persecution in their origin countries can apply for asylum in the U.S. and receive permanent resident Green Cards.
Share

Make the Best of the Green Card Lottery!

Though the Green Card Lottery is an annual program and it is available once every year, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend time preparing.

Simple mistakes in the registration period will prevent you from winning the Green Card Lottery until a later year.

Before, this wasn’t such a great concern if you had the time. If you didn’t mind waiting you could apply year after year, feeling only moderately disappointed when you didn’t win, but this may prove to be the last year of the Green Card Lottery.

The United States Congress, the part of the government responsible for coming up with a great deal of Immigration policy, is seriously considering cancelling the Green Card Lottery to make way for other improvements in the system.

It is somewhat unlikely that the Congress will end the program this year or even the next, but anyone looking to apply for the Green Card Lottery should be aware that it is on the chopping block.

So how does one make the best of the Green Card Lottery?

Apply now!

There is no better time than the present to apply for the Green Card Lottery. Although the official application period doesn’t begin for another month or so, you can sign up with usagreencardlottery.org and you’ll be registered as soon as the period opens up.

File Right!

Pay special attention to the instructions on how to apply for the Green Card Lottery. Even very slight mistakes can result in your elimination from the lottery.

Usagreencardlottery.org is specifically designed to help you put your registration application together so that you won’t get automatically thrown out for a careless reason.

Be Patient!

All immigration processes are time consuming, but the fortunate thing is that the Green Card Lottery is relatively quick. Apply today and get started on your journey to the United States!

Share

Immigration Reform and the Green Card Lottery

A Major Overhaul

The Federal Election in 2012 has made it apparent to many people in the United States that improving the U.S. immigration system is absolutely necessary.

These changes could impact the Green Card Lottery quite a lot.

Many people in the U.S. care deeply about this subject and it may have even had a real impact on the outcome of the election.

Politicians in the United States tend to fall into one of two fields depending on their political affiliation:

  • Liberals believe that a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants is important.
  • Conservatives believe that sealing the borders to any further undocumented immigrants is the most important.

Both factions seem willing to compromise, but the real question is how much will they compromise on these topics? In the end it is a matter of wait-and-see.

A Path to Permanent Residency

Currently, there is no real pathway to permanent residency (or Green Card status) for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

As the system stands now, undocumented immigrants would have to leave the U.S. for as much as a decade to be able to apply for legal entry into the U.S.

For those immigrants already somewhat established in the country, this bar could result in an almost insurmountable hardship.

Liberal politicians are proposing a way for these already established immigrants in the U.S. to gain permanent Residency.

Increased Enforcement

Conservatives have expressed interest in granting a special pathway to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants provided that the government does a better job of keeping people from crossing the border illegally.

This would include the building of a fence and personnel heavy infrastructure near the areas of the borders where the largest number of illegal immigrants comes into the U.S.

One proposed plan also takes into account a certain amount of budget funds for prosecuting criminal undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Share

What Is Undocumented Status?

A popular buzzword in American media nowadays is that of the undocumented status.

While many people may recognize themselves as being undocumented, many may not understand why or if they even are.

Regularly, immigrants wonder if their status will affect any future applications they may file.

For more information about undocumented status and the Green Card Lottery, visit our article on the subject.

What Is Undocumented Status

Plainly, undocumented status means that a person is residing in the United States with expired immigration documents, nullified documents or no documents at all.

There are a great many different terms to describe this condition in the U.S. and they wax and wane in popularity depending on what viewpoint is used.

Here are some synonyms for undocumented status:

  • Undocumented worker
  • Illegal Alien
  • Illegal foreign resident
  • Undocumented student

The term “illegal” applied to these people is often taken the wrong way. Some may argue that a person in the United States without documents came into the country and stayed in disobedience of the law.

However, there is a huge difference between someone who walked past border security without ever applying for entry and someone who applied, but lost their status.

A person who enters the United States as a visitor comes into the country entirely legally, but if they stay just one day after the date they are supposed to leave, their status changes to undocumented. It seems somewhat unreasonable to immediately call that person “illegal”.

There are many other circumstances where the term “illegal” seems inappropriate.

For example: if a child is brought into the United States by their parents and their status expires, does it even make sense to say that the child is illegally in the country?

How, for instance, could that child possibly understand the complexities of the U.S. immigration system to even understand that they had done something wrong. Many adults have a difficult time understanding the immigration system.

These are issues that are being addressed right now in the U.S. Congress and it is hoped that better and more descriptive terms are adopted soon.

Share

Same-Sex Marriage and the Green Card Lottery

Recently, a Supreme Court decision made it unconstitutional for government authorities to discriminate against legal marriages.

This impacts many different aspects of government and public life, but many people wonder: “Does it affect immigration policy at all? Will it impact the Green Card Lottery?”

The short answer is that it will affect immigration policy for the Green Card Lottery and most certainly positively.

Same-Sex Marriages

An important part of this new decision is that the USCIS will now routinely accept same-sex marriages in immigration proceedings. However, that marriage must meet certain requirements.

The marriage must have been legal and sanctioned in the jurisdiction in which it took place.

This means that the country, or state, in which the marriage took place, fully recognizes same-sex marriage.

A marriage conducted clandestinely within an area that does not recognize same-sex marriages will not be considered to be genuine in immigration proceedings.

It should also be noted that in certain areas where the government does not recognize a same-sex marriage, certain churches do. Though a church may recognize the marriage, that does not necessarily make the married couple to receive immigration benefits based on their marriage.

The Green Card Lottery

Nothing really changes about the process in the Green Card Lottery for same-sex couples, only that now they can include their spouse on the application as well.

It is important to include one’s spouse on the Registration application as well as the actual visa application.

Photographs of both of you (individually) must also be included in the registration information.

Also, any children in the marriage must be listed on the forms and their photographs be included as well.

Share