To many people abroad, the United States remains the land of opportunity. A place of freedom, liberty, somewhere that you can be whoever you want to be. If you’re hoping to move to the United States without a job offer or the help of a related citizen, the diversity visa program can help you.
Also known as the green card lottery, the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program sets aside a certain number of visas for people from countries lacking in immigrants to the United States. If you’re hoping to join the millions of immigrants currently living in the US, this could be your ticket to permanent residency!
In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at the diversity visa program is, how it works, and how you can enter this lottery.
Are you ready to learn more and start forging your future in the US? Then read on!
What Is the Diversity Visa Program?
The modern diversity visa program was created way back in the late 1980s and provides 55,000 permanent residence visas for citizens of countries that have not sent many immigrants to the United States. The end goal is to create a diverse immigrant population and give people from developing countries a better chance of getting residency.
So, how does the program define low immigrant populations? If your country has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years, you will not be eligible to enter the green card lottery. This rules out many European countries automatically, but it also rules out citizens of other nations from all around the world including:
If you come from any of these countries, you will have to wait until your immigration numbers drop before you can apply for the lottery.
The visas are not distributed equally between all eligible countries. The program divides the world into six different areas, which are as follows:
- Europe, including Turkey and the former USSR
- Asia (excepting former members of the USSR such as Kazakhstan)
- Latin America
- North America (Canada and the Bahamas)
The areas that have sent more than one-sixth of America’s immigrants in the past five years (at the time of writing, Latin America and Asia) are defined as a high-admission region. All the other regions are defined as low-admission regions.
When the government allocates the visas, they give a proportionate amount of visas to those from low-admission regions as they do to the immigrants from the other nations. For instance, around 80 percent of US immigrants in the past five years have come from Asia or Latin America, which means that 80 percent of diversity visas will go to low-admission regions, while 20 percent will go to Asia and Latin America.
It’s also worth noting that the lottery selecting your application does not automatically mean you’ll get a visa. The lottery selects around 100,000 applicants for only 55,000 visas to make sure that people take all the visas, rather than wasting them.
Exemptions to the Previous Rules
While most of the rules that we’ve mentioned are hard and fast, there are some exemptions. For instance, the 50,000 immigrants limit does not count refugees or asylum seekers as immigrants.
It’s also worth noting that while the United Kingdom has been exempt from the diversity visa program for many years due to the high number of British immigrants, Northern Ireland has its own separate classification thanks to Irish-American lobbying. This means that people who were born in Northern Ireland may apply for the diversity lottery even though they are British citizens.
Entering the Green Card Lottery
So, we’ve taken a look at what the diversity visa program is, but how can you enter it and get a US green card? To enter the diversity visa program, you’ll need to register for the program online.
Registration opens between October and November, and you will need to register for the lottery during this window. Registration must be done online and it is only available in English.
You will need to submit a lot of different information including passport number, date of birth, and photos. Make sure that you read all of the instructions very carefully: you need to fill it out perfectly if you want to enter the lottery.
While there are no ways to increase your odds of winning, there are some ways that you can make sure that you’ve filed your application correctly. For instance, you should hire an immigration lawyer to help you out during the filing process.
Beware of Scams
Be careful of scammers when you’re filing for your entry to the lottery. There are a lot of scammers that will say they can increase your chances of winning or give you multiple entries to the lottery.
All of these scammers are lying. You cannot have more than one entry to the lottery. Nor can you increase your chance of winning: the drawing process is done by computer, not by people, so it’s truly random.
You should also be aware the chances of winning a green card are fairly low: there are millions of applicants every year, which means that competition is fierce. If you don’t win on your first attempt, keep trying!
Your Ticket to Freedom
The diversity visa program is a fantastic opportunity for many people, but you should always bear in mind that it is a lottery. You may not win, and there are no ways to increase your odds of winning. If you’re feeling disheartened, you may also wish to look into other ways to move to the US such as sponsorship by an employer or family member.
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