What is green card lottery? Let’s take a look.
Today, many people choose to settle down in a country other than the one they were born in. The United States is among the top ten countries that attract immigrants from across the world. To become a US citizen, immigrants must first be awarded a Green Card. Getting this is no easy feat.
Till now, unless you were married to a US citizen, were sponsored by your employer or have family members who are citizens; a combination of skills and luck was needed to get a Green Card. This is because the system was designed around a lottery known as the Diversity Visa Lottery.
The system is also known as the Green Card Lottery. It was designed to ensure that immigrants living in the US were from a diverse background. Only people from countries that are under-represented in the US can apply for a green card under this system. With a green card issued through this lottery, the individual can avail of all the benefits of permanent residency in the United States. Up to 50,000 immigrant visas are processed through this system each year.
Are You Eligible?
You can apply for a green card through the Green Card Lottery system before you enter the country or while you are staying in the US with a dual intent visa. However, not everyone is eligible for a Green Card under this system. There are two main criteria that need to be fulfilled in order to be eligible.
Be a native of a qualifying country
The diversity visa was designed to encourage people from countries with low representation in the US to shift to the country. If you were born in a country which has many people already living in the US, you will not be eligible for the lottery. Each year a list is drawn up of the countries that are exempted from this lottery. This list is created by taking into account the number of people from each country that have moved to the US in the last 5 years. In 2018, natives from 18 countries including India, China, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam are not eligible for this lottery. However, you may still be able to participate in the lottery on the basis of your spouse or parent’s nationality.
Have sufficient education and work experience
The applicant must fulfill either the educational criteria or the work experience criteria to be eligible for the Green Card lottery. The first refers to having successfully completed high school education in the US or its equivalent in any other country. In the United States, this is equivalent to 12 years of elementary and secondary education. However, it is possible to apply for the visa even if the course of study lasted less than or more than 12 years as long as the matter is the same as high school education in the US. Alternatively, the applicant must have at least 2 years work experience in any of the qualifying job categories within the last 5 years.
Criticism of the Green Card Lottery
Under this system, both skilled and unskilled individuals have equal chances of getting a Green Card. Hence, the system has been criticized by many as one that discourages skilled workers from coming to the US. The lottery system was also deemed a security threat after an Egyptian individual who had entered the country through this system participated in a terrorist act. A number of attempts have been made to replace the lottery system with a merit-based system but none of these bills have been passed by the Senate till now. President Trump has also put forward a proposal to end the Green Card Lottery system.