Immigration Lottery

The United State Citizen and Immigration Services offers a host of programs, initiatives, and efforts to promulgate the safe and efficient immigration of immigrants into the country. One such effort, initiated as part of the Immigration Act of 1990, is the Section 131 Diversity Immigrant Visa program, or otherwise known as the immigration lottery. The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is vernacularly also referred to as the Green Card Lottery, in addition to the Immigration Lottery. The Immigration Lottery is essentially a process, mandated by the United States Congress, to administer permanent residency cards of the United States to select numbers of foreigners. The conditions of the program require an annual lottery upon the initiative and oversight of the Department of State in accordance with the legislation passed under Section 203(c) in the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. The persons receiving these immigration lottery green cards also garner to title of diversity immigrants upon their immigration to the United States.

According to the United States Department of State, the applications for the 2008 drawing of the immigration lottery numbered over 6.4 million applicants, which does not include the number of dependents attached to these 6.4 million applicants as well. The 2008 figures for the immigration lottery delineate a 16% increase from the number of applicants in 2007.

The huge caveat to all foreigners fully taking advantage of the immigration lottery for permanent residency is two-fold. First, the State Department is strictly regulated to issuing only 50,000 of these diversity residency green cards each year. This means that in the year 2008, only 0.0078% of immigrant lottery applicants will win diversity immigrant status. The probability ratios of winning the lottery itself is a major downside for many immigrants, but additionally, there is a second caveat to actually being able to participate in the immigration lottery program, let alone winning permanent residency status in the face of such great odds. The State Department only allows applicants for the program to immigrant from countries deemed as having low rates of immigration to the United States.

As of 2008, countries deemed by the State Department as having too high of rates of immigration to participate in the immigration lottery program include:

  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom
  • Vietnam

All other nationalities of immigrants in the world prove eligible for the immigration lottery. On a personal level, each individual applicant must meet eligibility requirements to immigrate to the United States that others face as well, including the necessary high school level educational background or documentable and valuable work experience. Additionally, it is important to note that the State Department issues more immigration lottery acceptances than the mandated 50,000 in order to compensate for the decision of some winners to not pursue their green card rights, so, therefore, winners of the lottery may or may not actually receive diversity immigrant status immediately. Having an immigration attorney working your case is essential to preserving and retaining all the rights winners of the immigration lottery acquired, in addition to expediting you and your loved ones immigration process to the United States.

Are you or your loved ones seeking to immigrate to the United States? Contact an immigration attorney today.

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