How Does the Green Card Lottery Work?

The green card lottery is essentially a golden ticket to enter the United States. The visa lottery is officially known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, and it one of the simplest and least expensive ways to garner permanent U.S. resident status. Each year more than 20 million people apply for these visas, but the U.S. awards only 50,000 each year.

What is a Green Card?

green card is an identification card carried by non-citizen immigrants to prove their lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. About one million people receive green cards each year. The green card lottery is only responsible for about five percent of green card recipients each year.

What is the Green Card Lottery?

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Diversity Immigration Visa program into law as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The goal was to broaden the range of immigrants admitted to the U.S. At the time, the act helped the Irish fleeing their country due to unrest and violence.

How Does the Green Card Lottery Work?

Applicants for the visa lottery apply through the U.S. Department of State unless they are already in the United States. Then they may apply through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To apply, you must:

  • Come from an eligible country;
  • Have completed high school or two years of equivalent work experience;
  • Be admissible to the U.S.

If selected, you must also pass an interview before receiving your green card.

Unfortunately, President Trump’s presidential proclamation suspends entry into the U.S. for certain immigrants during the pandemic. Even though the State Department may process and issue visas from the green card lottery, immigrants won’t be able to enter the U.S. until the proclamation expires on December 31, 2020, unless they meet an exception to the proclamation.

If you are beginning your green card process or are already in the fray, you should discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney. Please contact my firm if you would like to consult about or be represented on your diversity visa.