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Green Card Lottery

Your free pass for life in the U.S.

The U.S. is giving away 55,000 Green Cards to those in many parts of the world. The Green Card Lottery is part of the Diversity Visa Lottery (DV) Green Card Program of the U.S. which was created in 1994. It aims to ensure that the diversity of American society does not shift due to a disproportionate share of immigrant groups from certain countries. For this reason, for many countries worldwide the Green Card Lottery helps strengthen their rates of immigration; whereas, other countries are excluded from the Lottery - and, with few exceptions, those born in one of these countries are not allowed to participate.   

The following countries were excluded from participating in the Green Card Lottery as of 2012:

Brazil, Bangladesh, Canada, China (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan were approved), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, South Korea, the United Kingdom and dependent territories (Northern Ireland was allowed), Vietnam.

Exceptions for those who were born in one of those countries, however, are if they are married to a partner born in a country approved for the Green Card Lottery, or whose parents were both born in a country that is eligible for the Lottery.

Is also important to know that winning the "Green Card" does not mean that there are no further requirements and deadlines in order to actually obtain the Green Card. 

For example, the following are some rules and deadlines to consider:

Participants from Germany, or from another approved country, who win in the Lottery will not receive a Green Card if they do not meet the minimum requirements in terms of education or training. For example, winners must demonstrate they have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent.  Or, alternatively, they must have two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform. The latter, of course, means with the right work experience a high school graduation is not even required.

There are also some deadlines winners are required to meet.  For excample, once permanent residence is granted and the winner (and his/her family, if applicable) receive an immigrant visa in their passport(s) it must then - within six months of issuance - be "activated" at any port of entry to the United States. To be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States, this prerequisite travel to the U.S. does not mean that the new immigrant has to immediately move there, it is just important that they meet this deadline of receiving a stamp on their visa as proof of lawful admittance to the United States.  


Winners of the Green Card Lottery who meet these requirements can now live and work permanently in the United States without further immigration-related formalities. To live and work in the U.S., the E-1 and E-2 Visas offer a similar opportunity and are also suitable for when longer stays in the U.S. are planned. Unlike the Green Card, they must, however, be renewed every few years. These ultimately offer no permanent immigration visa but still provide opportunities for living and working in the United States.

Participation in the Green Card Lottery is also possible using an immigration consulting company or Green Card service provider such as The American Dream.

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