Diversity Visa Lottery – Green Card Lottery

Diversity Visa Lottery vs. Green Card Lottery:  What’s the Difference?

If you are looking at different options for acquiring lawful permanent residence in the United States, one of the options which may be available to you is the lottery.  The lottery provides opportunities for foreign nationals from eligible countries to submit an application for the selection process.  If you are from an eligible country and have been considering the lottery you have probably heard it referred to by different terms.

To keep things simple and avoid some of the confusion which surrounds different terms, the diversity visa lottery and the green card lottery are actually the same thing.  Since the purpose of the lottery is to increase cultural diversity in the United States the lottery is frequently referred to with the word diversity included.  On the other hand, the visa lottery means that you are applying for the selection process for potential permanent residence and green card status in the United States which is why some refer to the lottery as the green card lottery.

Purpose of the Diversity Visa LotteryDiversity Visa Lottery

If you are referring to the lottery in terms of diversity the diversity visa lottery is just as the name implies, which is to encourage lawful immigration from countries which are underrepresented in the US immigration process.  The diversity category for the visa lottery was added to the Immigration and Nationality Act in the beginning of the 1990s in an effort to encourage wider variety of immigration from different parts of the world.

USCIS Specifications for the Diversity Visa Lottery

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services there are specific statutes which define the guidelines for the diversity visa lottery.  The statutes uphold the purpose of the lottery which is to encourage cultural diversity in the US.

First, the countries which are eligible for the diversity visa lottery must have an immigration total of lower than 50,000 during the previous five years.  The countries which qualify on any given year are divided into six different geographic areas and according to population numbers.  The countries which are the most underrepresented are given priority status for immigration admission to the US.

The statutes for the diversity visa lottery which are set forth by USCIS have not been modified since the early 1990s, except for an Act enforced in 1997 which is known as the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act which reduced the annual limit of 55,000 to 50,000 to offset the number of visas issued to refugees which were unsuccessful in the lottery.  These were refuge seekers from El Salvador and Guatemala as well as specific communist countries in Europe.

Diversity Visa Lottery Eligibility

The eligibility requirements for the diversity visa lottery are basically the same as the green card lottery.  You must hold a high school diploma and have at least two years of experience or training in a specific occupation.  If you are married either you or your spouse must be a native of one of the qualifying countries and you must undergo the interview process with the consular in your country, in addition to inspection upon entry to the United States.

Hopefully this information will help you understand more about the background of the diversity visa lottery, its intended purpose, and why only certain countries are eligible.

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