The North American Diversity Visa

America is considered one of the most desirable countries to live in the world and receives an incredibly large number of applicants attempting to gain permanent residence. 

The United States of America are regarded as one of the toughest countries to immigrate to and establish a sustainable living situation in. Not only are the restrictions on immigrants simply applying for visas extremely strict, but even after applying, visas themselves are nearly impossible to attain due to professional, financial and racial qualifications. However, there is another option for those who cannot finagle themselves a working visa, afford a green card (which costs more than half a million US dollars if you qualify) or find an American citizen to marry and it is a visa known as the Diversity Visa

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The Diversity Immigrant Visa program, or the Green Card Lottery is a congressionally mandated lottery program organized by the US Government that allows winners to receive a United State Permanent Residency Card. The program is held annually by the Department of State and makes 50,000 permanent resident visas available to natives of countries that are classified as having low rates of immigration to the United States. 

 

Classifications & Selections

The DV has several classifications that must be met in order to even apply for consideration. The country you claim as your native country, which is usually the country you were born in, is a huge factor as the Diversity Visa’s main initiative is to bring in natives of countries that are not well represented in the United States. A list of countries that are exempt from applying include Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories and Vietnam. 

Another major factor is the type of occupation an applicant intends to pursue once allowed into the country and permitted to work. Different kinds of jobs are classified into zones, and only jobs that are in Zone 4 or 5 can be considered for the Diversity Visa as these jobs are regarded as positions that require specialized training and preparation, compared to occupations that can easily be taught to an American citizen. Although these job zones do not come into play until after you are selected in the lottery, it is important to be aware of the future steps and classifications because you will be immediately disqualified from consideration if you fail to meet the requirements that were explained ahead of time. 

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Applying

To apply for the Green Card lottery is one of the most painless and simple processes of any visa application. The questions are minimal and straightforward and it only takes a total of about twenty minutes total if you stay focused. Here are the official instructions as well as answers to frequently proposed questions. 

Entry dates for applications are held from October 1 to November 3, and entries will not be accepted if they are submitted by mail. Winners will be able to see if they have been chosen by May 5. These dates may vary slightly from year to year. 

 

Chance of Winning

Despite the disclaimer that all "All entries received within each region during the entry period will have an equal chance of being selected” there is reputed to be evidence based on previous year’s statistics that certain countries have better chances than others. Due to the fact that the visas are distributed based on a regional basis, each region with fewer immigrants has higher chances of winning. At the moment Africa and Europe are receiving about 80% of total visas from the lottery, however no single country is permitted to receive more than 7%, or 3,500 visas. 

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Once You Are Selected

Although there are only 50,000 visas, the lottery selects more winners than there are visas available because there are always applicants who do not qualify- so just because you are selected, does not guarantee that you will receive an immigrant visa. Winners must then satisfy all of the eligibility requirements under US law and then attend an interview. Two major qualifications that applicants must meet include having completed education at least up to a high school diploma and having two years of work experience in a field or occupation that requires at least two years of training. 

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Risks of Applying

Although it seems like the Green Card lottery is the ultimate answer (its free and easy to apply!), there are a few risks that you may encounter. Your application to be a permanent immigrant to the United States shows your interest in coming to the country. Regardless of lottery results, the information that you entered into the system will be tracked even when you apply for a non-immigrant visa. The reason your previous entry in the system is relevant is because a consular officer may question your intent when entering the country, even if it is just for travel, study or business matters. If you are a lottery winner, then an application for a non-immigrant visa is most likely to be foreclosed due to your current visa possibilities of becoming a permanent resident. Potential issues may arise if there is considered a conflict in the applicant’s immigrant intent based on their lottery involvement, unless they apply for a visa that allows dual intent.

Another issue to keep an eye out for when applying to the Diversity Visa is fraudulent and scam websites. There is only one official website that accepts applications for the Green Card Lottery, so do not be mistaken for other websites attempting to offer their services as agents that can help you increase your chances for a DV. Scammers pose as the US Government and offer their services in exchange for payments, while the official application for the DV requires no payment at all. Applicants should refer to scam information in order to prevent themselves from falling victim to one of these websites, as well as understanding what they should expect when it comes to the application and overall DV process.

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19 October 2017
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