Green Card Lottery: An Alternate Route to a Green Card

LotteryNationals around the world who dream of living and working in the United States will mark their calendars for the beginning registration for the Diversity Visa (DV) 2016 program in October. The DV program—commonly called the Green Card Lottery– is operated by the Department of State (DOS) and is intended to promote a diverse immigrant culture through a lottery only offered to those with citizenship to countries with typically low rate of immigration.

Just a couple of years ago, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a 245-139 vote to put a stop the program. Arguing that the lottery is rife with fraud, GOP leadership proposed the 55,000 visas awarded through the program should move to increase visas awarded to students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM.) Democrats, however, said the bill was divisive for the immigrant community because it would effectively allow a jump ahead of already-existing immigration lines What’s more, statistics from the National Science Foundation show that only 30,000 students would even qualify for the H-1B student visas. The result would be a net lower immigration total.

Divided between six geographic regions, the lottery awards no more than 7 percent of available visas to nationals of any single country. The DOS randomly selects lottery winners on or about May 1 of each year. Entrants to the Diversity Visa 2015 program can check their status by using the lottery registration confirmation number at the E-DV website through September 30, 2015.

Of those who registered for the DOS’ DV 2014 program, some noteworthy items:

  • Tens of thousands of potential immigrants lived in countries all over Africa. Nigeria’s 6,014 registrants led the continent as the country with the most entrants, followed by Ethiopia with around 5,700 entrants and then Cameroon and Kenya, each with around 4,200 entrants.
  • With more than 6,000 registrants, Nepal was the Asian country with the highest represented green card lottery registrants. DOS reports three North Korean nationals registered in the lottery.
  • In Europe, Northern Ireland’s 37 registrants represented the only part of the United Kingdom eligible to participate in the visa lottery. No one from Vatican City entered the lottery.
  • The Bahamas is the only country in North America where nationals can register for the lottery.
  • More than 2,100 Australians represented the highest registrant rate in the geographic region the DOS calls Oceania.
  • For South America, Central America and the Caribbean, Venezuela is the continent leader in terms of Green Card Lottery entrants with around 1,900 entrants.

Countries where the DV 2014 wasn’t an option include: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born, excluding Hong Kong S.A.R., Macau S.A.R., and Taiwan), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

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