Why Green Card Lottery?

The green card lottery (Diversity Visa lottery) is a program strictly for individuals coming from countries with low immigration rates to the US. Every year approximately 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through this DV lottery program. These visas are not available for people who come from countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the US during the past five years.

The U.S. Department of State conducts this lottery every year and winners are chosen randomly from all qualified applications. Applicants selected in this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence in the US. Once permanent residence is granted, the individual can live and work permanently in the US. In addition, the individual can also bring his/her spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the US.

The Green Card Lottery Program – History

The green card lottery is a program by which a category of immigrants from under represented countries (low immigration rates) and those adversely effected by the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 were to receive a special immigration benefit. In 1986, the US Congress tried to help recently disadvantaged immigrants, with an emphasis on persons from the Irish Isles, get some special way to immigrate and receive a US green card. The sponsors of the Legislation, (prominent Irish-American members of Congress among them) started this lottery program that would grant green cards to persons from under represented countries.

Few changes have been made since that initial program. The congressionally mandated DV lottery program or the green card lottery is administered annually by the U.S. Department of State and conducted under Section 203 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act, 1990 amended INA 203 to provide a new class of immigrants, called the“diversity immigrants”.

There is no minimum age requirement to participate in the program, but there is the requirement to complete high school or to have work experience. Thus, the program is designated for persons 18 year old or above.

Each year, the US State Department releases the list of countries that are not eligible to participate in the green card lottery program. Non-eligible countries are defined as those from which the US has received more than 50,000 immigrants in the past five years. The list changes every year.

Legally Married Couples Can Submit Two Applications

1. In one application, the husband is the primary applicant and his wife is listed in the “spouse” section.
2. In another application, the wife is the primary applicant and her husband is listed in the “spouse” section.

Couples submitting two applications have their chances doubled for being selected. To file a dual application, both the husband and the wife should each fulfill the eligibility requirements. They can also include their unmarried children (if any) under 21 years of age on both applications.

If you were born in a country that does not appear in the list of countries qualifying for the program, you can apply by presenting a country of a different citizenship than the one you were born in. You may qualify if your spouse or your parents were born in a country that appears on the qualifying list. The US State Department receives applications for the green card lottery program only during a specified time period.