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.