A Green Card is a Permanent Residence Visa of The United States. Green Card holders “also known as permanent residents” are people given the authority (legal right) to live and work in the United States permanently. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides proof of this status through a permanent resident card called a green card. Green Card holders receive health, education and several other benefits. Today, regardless of their name, permanent U.S. residents aged 18 or older are required always to carry their U.S. Green Card.
If you do manage to win the Green Card Lottery, the Green Card you get lasts ten years and must be renewed. Green Cards can be renewed online, and it’s simple to do after those ten years have passed. Conditional permanent residents, those who have earned their Green Card through investment or marriage, must renew their Green Card after two years. Green Cards earned their nickname because they were coloured green between 1946 and 1964. They were made green again in 2010, but the Green Card nickname persisted, even as the cards were coloured blue, yellow, and pink.
The law states that no diversity visas shall be provided for “high admission” countries. In other words, immigrants with diversity visas should not come from countries that (during the previous 5 years) presented more than 55,000 immigrants in the Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based visa categories. The list of countries that do not qualify for the Green Card Lottery is subject to change from year to year.
To apply for a US Green Card, you must meet the following requirements.
- You must be at least 16 years of age
- You must have either graduated from high school (at least 12 years of formal primary and secondary schooling); have at least a US high school diploma, the equivalent thereof for your country
- Alternatively, you must have minimum two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience
- You must be a citizen of an eligible foreign nation that has a low rate of immigration to the United States
How to apply for a Green Card through the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery
The Immigrant Visa Diversity Lottery “also known as the DV Lottery” allots up to 50,000 immigrant visas ready to be handed out on a lottery basis each year. The lottery allows nationals of countries with low immigration rates the chance to enter a random lottery to potentially receive their own immigration visa. The official submission period for the Green Card Lottery is normally 30-60 days but this can vary from one year to another and is typically between the months of October and November.
To apply, you will need to visit the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery website and submit your application within the window period. The application is free of charge. You will need a passport size photo with you which meets the photo requirements of the program.
- Submitting multiple entries will lead to automatic disqualification of the applicant
- Entries that do not have all required information will be rejected
- Entries received before or after the announced dates will be disqualified.
Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery process
After the application period has elapsed, a random computer-generated lottery draw will take place to select 50,000 successful applicants. A computer will randomly select cases from among all the mail received for each geographic region. Within each region, the first letter randomly selected will be the first case registered, the second letter selected the second registration, etc. When a case has been registered, the applicant will immediately be sent a notification letter by the National Visa Center, which will provide appropriate visa application instructions.
How to check your Diversity Visa Lottery entry status
Applicants will be selected at random by computer from among all qualified entries. You can check your entry status on the month of May succeeding the year of your application, by logging your Confirmation Number, Last/Family Name, and Year of Birth on U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery website.
Further winners will be notified by mail at the address listed on their application. The notifications will be sent to the winners between April and July, along with instructions on how to apply for an immigrant visa. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified. U.S. embassies and consulates will not be able to provide a list of successful applicants.
If your application was not successful, you can try your luck on the next lottery. The law specifies there must be a separate application for each year’s visa lottery. Your previous applications for Green Card lotteries have no effect on the next Green Card Lottery. Each person who wishes to be included in the next Lottery must submit a new application within the specified window period.
US Green Card vs US citizenship
People may become lawful permanent residents after being petitioned for (often called “sponsored”) by a spouse or close family member or an employer; after receiving refugee status or asylum; after winning the diversity visa lottery, also known as the Green Card Lottery; or in various other categories. In most cases, Green Card holders must wait some years before applying to become US citizens, through a process called “naturalization.” A lawful permanent resident receives a photo identity card that is, literally, green, and therefore known as the Green Card. The card is evidence that the holder has the right to live and work in the US on a permanent basis, as well as to travel and return.
However, Green Card holders cannot do everything that US citizens can.
- They may not vote in US elections
- They cannot remain outside the US for an unlimited time
- They cannot make their primary home outside the US
- They can lose their residency rights by failing to report changes of address
- They can lose their residency rights by committing crimes or acts of espionage or terrorism
In addition, Green Card holders cannot always get the same assistance and benefits from the government that US citizens can. Many federal programs impose a five-year grace period before Green Card holders can start receiving benefits. US citizenship is the highest status someone can attain under US immigration law. It means a permanent right to live in the United States. US citizens are not subject to the grounds for deportation that affect Green Card holders. The only way someone can take a former immigrant’s citizenship status away is if that person committed fraud in obtaining it in the first place. For these reasons, it is wise for Green Card holders to apply for US citizenship as soon as possible.
Green Card categories
1. Family-Based Green Cards
Family sponsorship is among the most common methods for foreign nationals to enter the United States. Green Card holders and American citizens can sponsor certain members of their family for legal status within the United States. The U.S. citizen or Green Card holder sponsoring their relatives must prove that they can financially support the beneficiary. U.S. citizens and Green Card holders can file immigrant petitions on behalf of their wives, husbands, and unmarried children to gain legal entry for them into United States.
U.S. citizens enjoy being able to sponsor wider categories of relatives than Green Card holders. US Citizens can sponsor parents, brothers, sisters, and married children. US Citizens must be over age 21 to sponsor parents, brothers, and sisters. However, there are still limits to whom a legal citizen is allowed to sponsor. They are not allowed to sponsor aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren, their in-laws, or their cousins – only close relatives and next of kin.
2. Employment-Based Green Cards
Foreign nationals may be able to get a Green Card to stay in the United States if they receive an offer of permanent employment from an employer within the United States and if that employer is willing to sponsor them for a Green Card. Those with higher education and ability are more likely to receive an employment-based Green Card for entry into the United States.
3. Investment-Based Green Cards
Foreign nationals can gain a Green Card for the United States by creating jobs in the country through investing between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in commercial enterprises. The investment must benefit the U.S. economy, and the national in question must have created at least ten full-time jobs for American citizens.
People who are granted asylum or refugee status within the United States are eligible for a Green Card if they meet requirements. They can file an application for an adjustment of status and receive permanent resident status within the U.S.