FAQs About Immigration to the USA

QUESTION:  What is a Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to the United States?

ANSWER:  A United States of America Permanent Resident (PR) Visa, often referred to as a US “Permanent Resident Card” or “Green Card” (because of its color), authorizes a foreign national to live, work and study long-term in the United States. Green Card holders may live in any of the 50 US States; receive access to many excellent educational opportunities; have the option to buy a home or open their own business; and may apply for US citizenship after living in the United States at least five years as a US permanent resident and meeting other criteria.

 

QUESTION:  Is there a difference between a Diversity Visa and a Green Card?

ANSWER:  Yes. A “Diversity Visa” is a colorful visa that is stamped into the passport of a foreign national who won the Green Card Lottery, passed the subsequent Consular Interview successfully and was approved to immigrate to the United States and it authorizes them to enter the USA within a certain timeframe specified on the visa. A “Green Card” is a common term used for a United States of America Permanent Resident Visa, also known as a US Permanent Resident Card, which is a green, hard plastic card issued to US permanent residents after they receive their Diversity Visa. The Green Card should be carried by a US permanent resident at all times and is a form of positive ID, which also provides official proof that a foreign national has been authorized to live, work and study long-term in the United State of America.

 

QUESTION:  What is the difference between a US immigration visa and a non-immigrant visa?

ANSWER:  A US immigration visa is stamped inside the passport of a new permanent resident to authorize initial entry into the United States (the Diversity Visa is an example). An immigrant who is granted a US immigration Permanent Resident (PR) Visa will also pay a fee to the USCIS agency to receive a Permanent Resident Card (also called a “Green Card”) which will be carried by the immigrant as an official form of identification in the United States and proof of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. A temporary non-immigrant visa to the USA is stamped inside the passport of a foreign national to authorize him/her to live in America for a limited length of time (ranging from a few months up to about 5 years, depending on the US visa and other factors). The non-immigrant temporary US work visas (such as the H1-B Visa) permit a foreign national to legally work in the USA, while other temporary non-immigrant US visas (such as a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa) do not allow a foreign national to work in the USA. Many of the non-immigrant US visa programs have an option for renewal if certain requirements are met and may also allow family members to apply for a non-immigrant visa to live in America for a limited amount of time. There are several US immigration visa programs (e.g., Diversity Visa, Employment-Based Visa, etc.) and non-immigrant visa programs (e.g., H-Visa, L-Visa, O-Visa, etc.) and each has its own eligibility requirements, procedures and benefits.

 

QUESTION:  What is the US Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program?

ANSWER:  The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program is one of several US government programs for immigration to the United States. The DV-Lottery Program is also widely known as the American Green Card Lottery Program and is the easiest way for a foreign national and their eligible family members to be issued a Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to the United States. Established by the US Congress, one of the main goals of the DV-Lottery Program is to further diversify the US population. Consequently, the US State Department publishes an annual list of countries whose natives may be eligible to participate in the Green Card Lottery held each year if they also meet the educational or work requirement. Registration for the Green Card Lottery usually occurs each October for the Lottery to be held early the next year. A lottery system is used to randomly select by computer approximately 100,000 Green Card Lottery winners (known as “selectees) in order to have a fair system of choosing who will have the opportunity to apply for one of the 50,000 US Green Cards authorized to be issued each year though the Diversity Visa Program. The results of the Green Card Lottery are normally made available to participants on the US State Department’s Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website starting in May, following the Lottery held earlier the same year. DV-Lottery winners who successfully pass the Consular Interview stage which follows the Green Card Lottery can be among the 50,000 foreign nationals authorized each year to be issued a Diversity Visa for immigration to the United States!

 

QUESTION:  Is there a difference between the US Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery and the American Green Card Lottery?

ANSWER:  No – the “DV-Lottery” and “Green Card Lottery” are two terms for the same US government program for immigration to the United States. This US immigration program used to be commonly known as the “Green Card Lottery” for many years since the US Permanent Resident Card (i.e., “Green Card”) is green in color, but in recent years it has been referred to as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program or DV-Lottery for short. Both terms are often used interchangeably for the same program, even though the official name is the US Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Lottery Program.

 

QUESTION: Why is a “lottery” system used to select the winners of the DV-Lottery?

ANSWER:   Fairness is an important value in the USA and, therefore, a lottery system was created in which approximately 100,000 winners are randomly selected each year by computer from the millions of DV-Lottery participants from around the globe to have an opportunity to continue the procedure to apply for a Diversity Visa to immigrate to the United States.

 

QUESTION:  What are the eligibility requirements to participate in the DV-Lottery (Green Card) Program?

ANSWER:  There are two main requirements to participate in the US Diversity Visa/Green Card Lottery. The first eligibility requirement is to be BORN in a country listed on the US State Department’s website as eligible for DV-Lottery participation for any given DV-year. This list is updated each year, usually in September just before the brief DV-Lottery registration period normally held in October. The second main eligibility requirement for the DV-Lottery is to have completed a secondary/high school education which the US State Department defines as, “completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completion of a 12-year course in the United States.” If an individual was born in an eligible country, but did not complete a secondary/high school education, they might still be eligible to take part in the DV-Lottery if they have “two years of experience in the last five years, in an occupation which, by U.S. Department of Labor definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher” as listed on the ONetOnline.org website.

 

QUESTION:  When is the DV-Lottery registration period?

ANSWER:  The official registration period for the DV-Lottery occurs during a brief period each year, usually during the month of October, for the Green Card Lottery to be held early the next year. The exact dates for the annual DV-Lottery registration period are normally released by the US State Department in September (along with the list of “eligible countries”), just before the registration period begins.

 

QUESTION:  Why is the current Green Card Lottery which will be held in early 2019 referred to as DV-2020?

ANSWER:  The reason is that people who register for the DV-2020 Green Card Lottery during the registration period that is held October 3, 2018, through November 6, 2018, and who are selected in the Green Card Lottery held in early 2019, and who then successfully pass the Consular Interview and are issued a Diversity Visa, may move to the United States as US permanent residents in 2020. Thus, this particular Green Card Lottery is referred to as the DV-2020 Green Card Lottery.

 

QUESTION:  What is the timeline for immigration to the USA through the DV-Lottery Program?

ANSWER:  Registration for the DV-Lottery usually occurs each October for the Green Card Lottery to be held early the following year and the names of the winners (i.e., “selectees”) are released by the US State Department starting in May. Those who are randomly selected as winners of the Green Card Lottery must then submit the Form DS-260 to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) so that the Consular Interview can be scheduled at the US Embassy or Consulate in the “selectee’s” country of residence. Before bringing the required documents and photos to the Consular Interview, “selectees and their family members listed on the DV-Lottery Application and Form DS-260 must have a medical exam from an authorized physician in their country of residence and also obtain any necessary police certificates, plus pay the necessary US governmental fees. After the “selectee” and their family members complete the Consular Interview, they will be informed as to whether or not they were approved for a Diversity Visa to move to the United States. If they are approved for immigration to the United States, a colorful Diversity Visa will be stamped inside their passport authorizing them to move to America after a specified date and no later than a certain date. After receiving their Diversity Visa, the “selectee” may next pay an Immigrant Fee to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) so that the green, hard plastic US Permanent Resident Card (i.e., Green Card) may be issued to them within about 30 days. Thus, if someone who registers in late-2018 for the DV-2020 Green Card Lottery which is held in early-2019 is selected as a winner and then they pass the Consular Interview process successfully and are issued a Diversity Visa, they could immigrate to the United States in 2020 as a US permanent resident!

 

QUESTION:  Who may I include in my Green Card Lottery Application?

ANSWER:  If you are eligible to participate in the DV-Lottery Program, you may include yourself, your spouse (of the opposite sex or same sex, as long as you are legally married), and all unmarried children under 21 years-old (i.e., your natural children, step-children or adopted children, regardless of whether they live with you or not and regardless of whether or not they will actually move to the USA), as applicable.

 

QUESTION:  May I include my de facto/common-law partner on my Green Card Lottery Application?

ANSWER:  The DV-Lottery Program regulations do not allow you to include on your Green Card Lottery Application a de facto/common law partner (i.e., someone you are not legally married to). If your de facto/common-law partner would like to also participate in the American Green Card Lottery and if they meet the eligibility requirements, they will need to complete and submit their own Green Card Lottery Application.

 

QUESTION:  May I include my same-sex spouse on my Green Card Lottery Application?

ANSWER:  Yes – If you and your same-sex spouse are legally married, you must include them on your Green Card Lottery Application.

 

QUESTION:  If I win the DV-Lottery, will I receive a Diversity Visa to immigrate to the USA?

ANSWER:  To be randomly selected as a winner of the DV-Lottery (also known as the Green Card Lottery) is a key step toward immigrating to the United States, however, there are additional important steps that must be accomplished successfully before a foreign national is issued a US Diversity Visa. In other words, winning the Green Card Lottery does not automatically guarantee that an individual will be granted a Diversity Visa authorizing them to move to America as a US permanent resident. After being selected in the DV-Lottery, the Form DS-260 must be correctly completed and properly submitted to the US State Department’s Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) so that the crucial Consular Interview may be scheduled at the US Embassy or Consulate in the “selectee’s” country of residence. If the selectee passes the Consular Interview successfully and is issued a Diversity Visa, they may then move to America and be able to receive a US Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a Green Card).

 

QUESTION:  What are the Employment-Based (EB) US immigration programs?

ANSWER:  Approximately 140,000 people per year immigrate to the United States through one of five Employment-Based (EB) US immigration programs (designated EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5) which were established in order to attract foreign workers with the skills and other assets needed to fill thousands of high-demand jobs in the USA. Examples include: individuals with “extraordinary abilities” in business, the arts and sciences, education, or athletics; multinational managers and other executives; outstanding researchers and professors; other professionals with the required university degrees or other post-secondary training; certain “special immigrants” (such as qualifying international broadcasters or religious workers); and foreign investors who make substantial investments in business enterprises located in the United States which create jobs in the USA. Each of the five Employment-Based US Permanent Resident (PR) Visa programs has its own eligibility requirements. Foreign workers and their family members who are approved for US immigration through an EB visa program can receive a Green Card for permanent residency in the United States.

 

QUESTION:  What are the benefits of being issued a US Permanent Resident Visa (“Permanent Resident Card” or “Green Card”)?

ANSWER:  There are many benefits of being granted an American Green Card, including the legal authorization to live, work and study long-term in the United States; access to the excellent US education system; opportunities to buy a home or start a business; freedom to live in any of the 50 States in the USA; the possibility to sponsor certain family members for a PR Visa to the United States (i.e., a Green Card); and the option to apply for US citizenship after living in the USA as a Permanent Resident of the United States for at least five years and meeting other criteria.

 

QUESTION:  Are there temporary US work visa programs?

ANSWER:  Yes –  There are several non-immigrant temporary US work visa programs that allow foreign workers to legally live and work in America for a limited time period (up to 1-5 years, depending on the US visa type, occupation and other variables). For example, up to 500,000 temporary foreign workers are granted an H-Visa each year, another 150,000 receive an L-Visa, plus around 22,000 are issued an O-Visa to permit them to live and work in America. In some cases, there may be an opportunity to renew/extend a temporary US work visa for an additional length of time (if certain conditions are met). A foreign worker who is granted a non-immigrant temporary US work visa may have an option for his/her immediate family members (for example, spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) to apply for the relevant non-immigrant US visa so they can also live in the USA with the foreign worker. Each of the different non-immigrant temporary US work visas (e.g., H-Visa, L-Visa, O-Visa, P-Visa, R-Visa, etc.) has its own eligibility requirements, procedures and benefits.