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Program Overview of Green Card Lottery

07th June 2010
By Samuel Beckett in Immigration Law
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Green Card Lottery is also called as America Green Card Lottery or Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery. Every year, the US Department of State issues 55,000 visas through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Of such visas, 5000 visas are allocated for use under NACARA beginning with DV '99. The reason for the Green Card Lottery coming into existence was because of the increase in the number of people from the world over applying for H-1B visas. Only 65,000 H-1B visas were being issued every year and the demand for H-1B visas far exceeded the allocated number, with more than 65,000 people applying for H-1B visas on a single day. However, the people's request to the USA government to increase the number of H-1B visas resulted in the administration of DV Lottery system instead.

The applicants are no longer allowed to submit a petition by mail; instead they have to submit the petition in an electronic format. Persons who are natives of a country with low rate of immigration are eligible to participate in Green Card Lottery. If a person is a native of a country which does not qualify to participate in the lottery, then that person can apply if his/her parents are natives of a country which is eligible to participate. The applicant should have a minimum education of a diploma or 12 years of elementary and secondary education or else he/she should have 2 years of work experience within the last 5 years in an occupation that requires 2 years of training or experience to perform. If the applicant receives a Green Card through the Diversity Visa Lottery program, then he/she is authorized to live, study and work permanently in United States of America. If the applicant is married, he/she can bring his/her spouse and unmarried children under the 21 years of age to the United States of America.

The Green Card Program is suitable for people who are 18 years of age or older. (Though a specific age has not been mentioned by the Department of State, the education/work experience requirements will automatically rule out those who are younger than 18.) Couples can file individual applications at the same time because it will increase their chances of winning the lottery. If either one of the two gets selected as a winner in the Green Card Lottery, the spouse automatically becomes eligible to apply for a visa.

The Department of State specifies a time period during which the applicants have to file their electronic applications. The time period is usually for two months between October and December. Photo requirements are specified by the Department and the applicants are required to complete the application and upload the photo within a specific time frame. Usually they are allowed 60 minutes to complete the process. It is not possible to save and exit the application, so it is advisable that the applicant has all the necessary information and the correct photos at the time of filling in the electronic application.

Once a person gets the Green Card, he/she can enter and leave the country freely. The green card holder is eligible to work in most US companies; employer sponsorship is not required. They have all the rights as provided by the US law except for the right to vote. The green card holder can get social security benefits and other benefits in the fields of education, tax, retirement etc. The green card will not affect the person's present citizenship, and makes the person eligible to apply for US citizenship later.

It is advisable to apply for the Green Card Lottery online well in time and ensure that it is error free. Even a small mistake will result in the rejection of the application. The photo has to meet the specifications and it should have been taken within 6 months prior to the submission date. The applicant has to make sure that everything is done perfectly while submitting the application, for which he/she has to have all the required information on hand at the time of submission. There is no doubt that the Green Card Lottery is one of the best ways to get into the United States of America.
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