Living and working overseas

The U.S. Green Card Lottery

Newsflash!!! DV-2008 Green Card Lottery starts October 4th 2006

You have undoubtedly seen advertisements for the U.S. Green Card Lottery in countless magazines, newspapers and other publications – not to mention the endless number of websites solely devoted to the subject. All promise the opportunity, assuming your number comes up, to legally enter the U.S. to live and work. But what exactly is the U.S. Green Card Lottery, and how can you take part and be given a chance to win a Green Card and move to the U.S. to live and work? Firstly it would be a good idea to understand exactly what a Green Card is, and what it means to be a holder of one.

U.S. Immigration made easy
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All you need to know about the U.S. immigration processes. Highly recommended reading for anyone wanting to move to the U.S.

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What exactly is a Green Card?

A Green Card also goes by the name of an ‘Alien Registration Receipt Card’, and many years ago they were green in colour – hence the name, Green Card. The main function of the Green Card is to allow the holder the right to permanent residence in the United States and, as such, the right to work. This is not to be confused with a work permit which simply affords the right to work temporarily in the United States (see our section on U.S. immigration for more information about work permits).

What is the U.S. Green Card Lottery?

Anyone who has tried to obtain a Green Card through the normal channels will be aware of just how difficult a task it can be. Thus, the opportunity to obtain one with relatively little effort through the U.S. Green Card Lottery is a major attraction to millions of people the world over every year.

Every year, the U.S. government allocates a certain number of Green Cards that can be issued by means of a lottery, officially known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery, or Green Card Lottery. That is to say that everyone who applies under the Green Card Lottery goes in to a lottery draw where every applicant is given a unique number, and those numbers that are randomly selected by computer will receive the right to a U.S. Green Card. Of course there are rules and regulations regarding who can apply, but for many people the Green Card Lottery offers the best chance of legally entering the U.S. to live and work permanently.

How does the U.S. Green Card Lottery work?

For the purposes of the lottery the world is divided up into different regions. Each region is allocated a certain percentage of the total 50,000 visas that are available with no more than 3,850 visas being allocated to any one country, or any one country being allocated more than 7 percent of the total for that region. The qualifying countries varies depending on the level of general immigration to the U.S. from those respective countries, or areas of the world, over the five years preceding that years lottery. As such, the eligibility of some countries will change from year to year depending on the level of immigration to the U.S. from those countries during the preceding 5 years. Countries with high levels of immigration to the U.S. already will not be eligible to participate in the Green Card Lottery scheme for that year. Check the U.S. Green Card Official Site to see which countries are being accepted into the scheme. It is also worth mentioning that if you come from a country that is not eligible to participate in the Green Card Lottery one particular year you may become eligible in future years. It is worth keeping a close eye on each year’s requirements and apply if the eligibility of your country changes.

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