Green Card Lottery winners // Lotteries

Green Card Lottery winners

visaDoes the country in which you live play any role in your happiness? I recently had this discussion with a reader, and for me the answer is absolutely YES! I don't think America is the only country where I can lead a happy or prosperous life, but it's the location of my entire family and to be separated from them by a great distance for long periods of time is unimaginable. So, America is the place I have always called home. If I didn't have such close familial relations, I would no doubt be a global wanderer, living and working in many different countries and continents by this point of my life. But fate dealt me a different set of cards, and my feet remain grounded in what I believe is a beautiful and unique country. One that I love very much, for reasons I've tried to explain many times on this blog.

For others, their home country provides no joy, no hope and few opportunities. These are the exact people who should apply for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery, which opens next week. Since 1990, the Department of State holds an annual lottery in which citizens of other countries can apply for a chance to be granted permanent residency in the U.S., with luck being the only determining factor. With the exception of marrying an American, it's the easiest pathway to U.S. citizenship.

In order to qualify, you must simply be born in one of the specified eligibility countries and have a High School Diploma, or two years work experience. Applications are accepted for one month only, starting . If the pending U.S. Immigration Reform bills are passed in their current form, this program will likely be eliminated in the future. In fact, it's quite controversial but I strongly support this diversity initiative. How does it work?

The program is officially called the "Diversity Visa Lottery", but is more commonly known as the "Green Card Lottery." On average, about 10 million people apply each year, with only 50 - 55, 000 diversity visas available. The program was founded to provide opportunities for citizens from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. For instance, because more than 50, 000 natives of the following countries have immigrated to the U.S. in the past five years, their citizens aren't eligible to participate in this year's lottery:

  • Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, the UK and Vietnam
Historically, the largest number of recipients have come from African countries, particularly Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya. A certain number of visas are allocated for each region of the world, and once all entries have been submitted, a State Department computer randomly selects a specified number of applicants from each region to fill the vacant visa slots. It is 100% up to chance, luck, or fate - whatever you call it - to be selected as a winner.

cabI took a look at last year's numbers, and interestingly the visa allocations for Russia and Ukraine were extremely high. In some cases, even more slots were allowed for these countries than the classic African countries which historically have the largest pool of winners. Look here for the most recent and complete figures on the number of diversity visas granted for each eligible country:

  • Ethiopia: 4, 988
  • Ghana: 3, 381
  • Kenya: 3, 534
  • Russia: 4, 103
  • Ukraine: 4, 679
  • Uzbekistan: 4, 368
  • Turkey: 3, 688
Applicants are not notified if selected. They must take personal responsibility and go online to the "Entrant Status Check" on 5 May 2015 to see if they won. If so, they must respond to the instructions and the State Deptartment will then begin the process of setting up a visa interview. All recipients must pass background checks and other formalities before permanent residency in the U.S. is granted. As long as they're properly identified in the entry application, a winner may also bring his spouse and children to the U.S. for permanent residency.
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