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Immigration Options: Green Card Lottery - Part 1

Posted by Ann Badmus | Nov 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

Each year, the vast majority of green cards are issued to employees and relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, there are other avenues to obtaining a green card.

One of these avenues is the annual Diversity Visa lottery program, in which 55,000 green cards are issued to randomly selected applicants. The purpose of the green card lottery is to diversify the pool of immigrants coming to the United States by providing green cards to those from otherwise underrepresented countries. As a result, immigrants from the following 20 countries are NOT eligible for the DV lottery for DV-2012 (this list can change with each lottery): Brazil, Canada, China (mainland only), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, U.K. (except N. Ireland), and Vietnam.

Immigrants from all other countries are eligible for the green card lottery, provided they have either completed the equivalent of a high school education or have worked for at least two years in a specified occupation. Interestingly, physician is not among the numerous occupations listed. Nevertheless, all physicians are qualified by virtue of their education.

Furthermore, even if a foreign national was born in one of the ineligible countries, they may still be eligible for the lottery if their national origin can be “charged” to another country. An immigrant's national origin can be charged to their spouse's country of birth. Likewise, national origin can be charged to the birthplace of the immigrant's parents if one of them was born outside of the immigrant's country of birth.

For instance, a physician who was born in Mexico ordinarily would be ineligible to participate in the green card lottery. However, if that physician is married to a spouse from a country that is not on the restricted list, such as Argentina, then her national origin may be “charged” to that country. Furthermore, if one of her parents was born in an unrestricted country, then she may “charge” her national origin to that country.

In the next article we will discuss the lottery application process.

About the Author

Ann Badmus

Principal and Managing Attorney


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