The official name of the green card is the United States Permanent Resident Card, i.e. This is an identification card that confirms that a person – not a US citizen – has a residence permit and the right to work in the country. The card changed its design several times and was really green a couple of times. The green card is most often talked about in connection with a special lottery, which makes it possible to win a residence permit, although you can get a resident card not only through it: the most popular way is through family ties with US citizens.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin

What kind of lottery?

Diversification Lottery is a visa drawing program that gives you the right to obtain US resident status. The program is called “Diversity Immigrant Visa”, implemented by its US Department of State, and its main purpose is to give visas to immigrants of different nationalities, in particular, from countries with a low level of immigration to the USA, to keep the variety that sounds in the name of the program.

How does it work?

Anyone who meets the criteria can apply for the lottery – the winners are selected by random computer selection. 50,000 visas are divided between six geographical regions: Africa, Asia, Europe (including the republics of the former USSR), North America, Oceania, South and Central America and the Caribbean Islands). The largest number of visas goes to the regions with the lowest level of immigration. In any case, no country will get more than 7% of visas, and if more than 50,000 people have already arrived in the United States over the past 5 years, this country does not participate.

Empire State Building, New York, United States
Photo by John Fornander

Requirements for participants:

  • To be born in a country admitted to the lottery. If you were born in one of the non-participating countries, you still have two options to apply – if your husband or wife was born in the participating country (provided that you file the application together and intend to enter the States together). The second option works if you were born in a country that cannot participate, but your parents (both) at the time of your birth were not citizens or permanent residents of this country.
  • Completed secondary education – at least 12 years of completed primary and secondary education, or two years of work (over the last five years) in an area where at least two years of education are needed. You can check if your specialty is suitable in the database.

What needs to be indicated in the questionnaire?

In the application form, you need to indicate passport data, attach a photo (it must be taken within the last 6 months and also meet certain requirements, otherwise this may cause the application to be disqualified), education, marital status. Be sure to save the confirmation page with your name and a unique confirmation number – without it, you will not be able to check the status of your application. Do not forget to indicate your current email – communication will occur through it if you win. It is important to follow all instructions: incorrect filling out or filing of several applications will lead to disqualification. The only official version of instruction is in English. There are several translations, but they are not official.

You can find out the results at starting May 15, 2018. If you win, you will need to go through an interview – they will additionally check if there are legal obstacles to your immigration to the USA and whether you can provide for yourself there.

New York
Photo by Chris Barbalis

What is the future of the green card?

The lottery is criticized a lot and often offered to be canceled: with its help, anyone with secondary education can move to the USA, while qualified specialists do not get a visa.

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