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If you or a loved one has been trying to get a green card, there's a program that started way back in 1990 that you may have never heard of: The Green Card Lottery, also know as a Diversity Visa. This program awards green cards to 50,000 immigrants from countries that have low immigration rates to the United States. The Department of State has begun taking entries for the 2018 lottery drawings, and will continue accepting entries until 12:00 p.m. November 7, 2016.
The Diversity Visa program is intended to diversify the immigrant population within the United States by only awarding the visas to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration. While a prospective immigrant's country of origin is among the most important factor considered, there is an additional requirement that applicants must have a high school education or the equivalent, or two years of specialized job training within the last five years.
What Countries Qualify?
The list of countries that qualify change from year to year. A country is disqualified if in the past five years, more than 50,000 individuals from that country immigrated to the United States. For the 2018 lottery, citizens of the following countries may not apply:
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
Note that there is an exception for people from Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan that allows them to apply.
Additionally, there is one more way to qualify. If your spouse or one of your parents were born in an eligible country, you may also qualify to apply.
Many Will Enter, 50,000 Will Win
Thanks to the modern times we live in, entry can be done online at dvlottery.state.gov. Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible because the system becomes much busier as the deadline to apply approaches. Also, the Department of State warns that individuals who attempt to enter the lottery more than once will be disqualified.
If you need assistance applying for a green card, or with keeping your green card, contact an experienced immigration lawyer.