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Green Card Lottery Season!


Does the country in which you live play any role in your happiness? I recently had this discussion with a reader, and for me the answer is absolutely YES! I don't think America is the only country where I can lead a happy or prosperous life, but it's the location of my entire family and to be separated from them by a great distance for long periods of time is unimaginable. So, America is the place I have always called home. If I didn't have such close familial relations, I would no doubt be a global wanderer, living and working in many different countries and continents by this point of my life. But fate dealt me a different set of cards, and my feet remain grounded in what I believe is a beautiful and unique country. One that I love very much, for reasons I've tried to explain many times on this blog.

For others, their home country provides no joy, no hope and few opportunities. These are the exact people who should apply for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery, which opens next week. Since 1990, the Department of State holds an annual lottery in which citizens of other countries can apply for a chance to be granted permanent residency in the U.S., with luck being the only determining factor. With the exception of marrying an American, it's the easiest pathway to U.S. citizenship.

In order to qualify, you must simply be born in one of the specified eligibility countries and have a High School Diploma, or two years work experience. Applications are accepted for one month only, starting
1 October 2014 and ending 3 November 2014. If the pending U.S. Immigration Reform bills are passed in their current form, this program will likely be eliminated in the future. In fact, it's quite controversial but I strongly support this diversity initiative. How does it work?

The program is officially called the "Diversity Visa Lottery", but is more commonly known as the "Green Card Lottery."  On average, about 10 million people apply each year, with only 50 - 55,000 diversity visas available. The program was founded to provide opportunities for citizens from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. For instance, because more than 50,000 natives of the following countries have immigrated to the U.S. in the past five years, their citizens aren't eligible to participate in this year's lottery:

  • Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, the UK and Vietnam

Historically, the largest number of recipients have come from African countries, particularly Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya. A certain number of visas are allocated for each region of the world, and once all entries have been submitted, a State Department computer randomly selects a specified number of applicants from each region to fill the vacant visa slots. It is 100% up to chance, luck, or fate - whatever you call it - to be selected as a winner.

I took a look at last year's numbers, and interestingly the visa allocations for Russia and Ukraine were extremely high. In some cases, even more slots were allowed for these countries than the classic African countries which historically have the largest pool of winners. Look here for the most recent and complete figures on the number of diversity visas granted for each eligible country:

  • Ethiopia: 4,988

  • Ghana: 3,381

  • Kenya: 3,534

  • Russia: 4,103

  • Ukraine: 4,679

  • Uzbekistan: 4,368

  • Turkey: 3,688

Applicants are not notified if selected. They must take personal responsibility and go online to the "Entrant Status Check" on 5 May 2015 to see if they won. If so, they must respond to the instructions and the State Deptartment will then begin the process of setting up a visa interview. All recipients must pass background checks and other formalities before permanent residency in the U.S. is granted. As long as they're properly identified in the entry application, a winner may also bring his spouse and children to the U.S. for permanent residency.

Please note there are many scam agencies who try to lure desperate people with promises they can increase the chances of winning the Green Card Lottery, and such promises are 100% false and fraudulent. The only way to apply for the lottery is through the official State Department website at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/diversity-visa/instructions.html. You can find Russian language instructions and explanations about the lottery here.

Many Americans absolutely hate this diversity lottery system, arguing the screening measures should be improved to allow only highly skilled and educated foreigners an opportunity to win free admittance to the U.S. A minority of Americans wish to close the doors for ALL immigrants, as the problem with illegals has reached epidemic proportions. No one can deny this, but through this program people enter LEGALLY. If the Immigration Reform Bill passes, everything will change and this lottery system will be based on many other factors, with luck playing only a minor role.

I still believe in rolling the dice, taking a shot at the unthinkable, and letting fate take its course. We can control our own destiny to a large extent, but not entirely. I support the Green Card Lottery in its present form, with few modifications. Almost every cab driver I meet in Washington, DC is Ethiopian, a past winner of the Green Card Lottery, and now making a better life for himself and family here. In my country and, now, theirs also. I'll never forget this guy named "Jama," a young Somali I met in Chicago.


Also a winner of the Green Card Lottery and now a medical student. I told you about him in this post, before most of you subscribed to my blog.

What do you think? Do you want an immigrant lottery system like this in Russia? As far as I'm aware, the U.S. is the only country that has this type of program.

I know many of you are very happy and content in Russia, with no desire to ever leave your homeland. But not all. So, I pass this information along in case someone wants to apply before the Green Card Lottery is abolished. I still believe America is a land of opportunity for those willing to work hard, be it in McDonald's, a cab, or a highly professional and skilled job. Some of my readers, now U.S. citizens, are living proof of it.


( 64 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2014 03:29 am (UTC)
Two of my friends get it and live in US almost 8 years . They said that there are three big disadvantages if they compair to Israel. One that US so far from Europe and it is not cheap to travel there, especially after low cost flights entered to the Israel market. Another is your medical insurance system, expensive and high bureaucratic even for small cases. Third is the high crime level.Honestly , I did it to, filled out lottery two times .....but if I will do it again this year ? I don't know.
Sep. 26th, 2014 07:19 am (UTC)
If your health is very poor, so of course you'd spent lot of money for medical bills. Otherwise it's not so much expensive.
As for crimes I don't think they are higher rates than in Russia , especially in suburbs. Even here in Brooklyn NY the crimes are not that what we heard every day.

Edited at 2014-09-26 07:26 am (UTC)
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kremlin_curant - Sep. 26th, 2014 04:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fesma94 - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 26th, 2014 10:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC)
Это развлечение предназначено для вчерашних студенто
Sep. 26th, 2014 02:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Это развлечение предназначено для вчерашних студен
Английский пожалуйста! I've forgotten almost all of my Russian. :(( Would an immigrant lottery system like this ever be welcomed in Russia?
Sep. 26th, 2014 09:12 am (UTC)
The point system seems to be more transparent and certain, at least in theory. When I was applying for Canadian residence 16 years ago, I knew I collect enough points to be admitted, so I could make plans. The drawback of the system is a possibility of a huge application backlog, which happened in Canada in the 2000s. They had means to reduce the intake of new applications, but they did not use them, perhaps for political reasons. Now they are switching to the pool system, when your application stays in the pool for a year; I am not sure the process of selecting applicants from the pool will be in any way transparent.

In theory, the point system allows a country to select "the best and the brightest". In real life, not everyone succeeds even with a "good" profession, and formal rules bar access to many prospective immigrants. I have known some people who forged their papers to get enough points for professional occupation they never had; now they all are well-established taxpayers. There was a research in Canada about 12 years ago, and it showed that the chances of establishing in the country mostly depend on language skills, level of education and work experience, but not that much on profession. So the "common folk" may benefit more from the lottery system.

Sep. 26th, 2014 02:22 pm (UTC)
I like the current U.S. lottery system, which gives the "common folk" a chance. Highly qualified and skilled foreigners can get into the U.S. other ways, particularly in the fields of science, IT and engineering. They can come through sponsored employment, research grants, etc. However, some person in a small, rural African village doesn't have the same opportunity for education, yet it doesn't mean they aren't intelligent and don't have the drive and dedication to succeed. They simply need the opportunity for something better. A shiny diploma from a top ranked school in any country doesn't equate to intelligence or guarantee a strong work ethic. Do you know how many stupid lawyers I meet in my profession? A lot! :)
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Sep. 26th, 2014 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2014 10:13 am (UTC)
I still believe America is a land of opportunity for those willing to work hard, be it in McDonald's, a cab, or a highly professional and skilled job.

This is what I do not like.
People are urged to work harder and harder, serving each other and creating unnecessary goods and services.
In Russia it is the same now.

Sep. 26th, 2014 02:25 pm (UTC)
By "work hard," I simply mean not be lazy. :) For instance, I consider myself a hard worker, but I'm not slaving away behind my desk 12 - 15 hours a day. I work a normal schedule (usually 9 am - 6pm), and do a good job when I'm there. Obviously, I take time off to enjoy life, travel and see the world. My boss simply accepts that my ambition in life is not to climb the firm ladder and become a big partner. I know my place in the company, and they are happy to let me remain status quo in exchange for freedom to take more time off. So, it all depends on priorities in life. For some it's money and prestige, for others (like me) it's life experiences.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Sep. 26th, 2014 11:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 27th, 2014 03:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2014 11:44 am (UTC)
Yes, I wish to play this year ))
Sep. 26th, 2014 11:54 am (UTC)
Good luck! Please let me know if you win. :)
(no subject) - skilunonabtair - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC)
Banned and reported as spam! Go away.
Andry Kon
Sep. 26th, 2014 03:09 pm (UTC)
if you doing свой мозг еври дей,инглиш спиr,то через пол года,средний человек разумный,начинает разговаривать . Но в США не хочется,может в Техас,к деревенским американцам,и где теплее чем тут,но бегать по нюоркам за своим доллером,с высунутым языком,по этим сраным американским городам,это мечта негров или евреев.
Sep. 26th, 2014 03:12 pm (UTC)
Then do not apply for the lottery, and remain in your beloved Russia. I don't welcome close-minded or racist immigrants into America, so your absence will not be missed.
(no subject) - Andry Kon - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Andry Kon - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
we took part twice. and i think we'll do it again this year)) not because i consider the US the heaven on earth but because i feel uncomfortable here and always did.so good to all the applicants!
Sep. 26th, 2014 05:32 pm (UTC)
Удачи! :) If you are selected, you can always decline. So there's no harm in trying! Btw, your message was marked as spam. It's very strange, as there were no links?
(no subject) - k_netalie - Sep. 27th, 2014 08:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC)
I think the best system is in Australia and Canada. They pick the best applicants, who can't be a burden
Sep. 26th, 2014 05:22 pm (UTC)
It's always difficult to determine who will be a burden, although some groups are at a higher risk for this. I don't really know how legal immigration works in other countries, but it appears many use this points based system for migration.
(no subject) - notabler - Sep. 26th, 2014 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - notabler - Sep. 26th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 26th, 2014 07:16 pm (UTC)
It'll be our second try....
Sep. 26th, 2014 07:23 pm (UTC)
I wish you and your family the best of luck!! I did not know you applied for this lottery.
Sep. 26th, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)
Screw the DV lottery. It doesn't do much to attract the best and brightest as it's open to practically anyone. I don't mean to sound racist but does the U.S. really need uneducated poor immigrants from Africa? Yes, there is a demand for unskilled workers but it can be dealt by legalizing those that are already in the U.S. They are not leaving anyway so why wait for who knows how long.

Australia has the best immigration system and I agree that the U.S. should adapt similar system. I know what to do to get there and although it will take a couple of years, the path is clear and visible. U.S. on the other hand... I've lived here for more than 6 years and now have an H-1b visa. Isn't it clear that I can be a productive member of the society? Heck, no. If I apply for a green card through my employer, I will have to wait for several years before my petition is even approved. Indians and Chinese wait even longer, some more than 10 years.

Also, professional immigration using H-1b visas is only for those who don't have spouses or whose spouses are willing to stay home. Dependents have no right to work in the U.S., how is that?
Sep. 27th, 2014 06:22 pm (UTC)
It's my understanding that it's now difficult to get employer sponsorship for jobs, as there are more limits on the numbers that are handed out. It's a great idea to utilize the illegals here now in the manual/service workforce, but this will never be a reality. The U.S. opened the floodgates, and there are too many here now to control and track. Plus, there are not enough government resources to track and place all of them in jobs. Regarding "uneducated poor immigrants", some of them go to school once they arrive in the States. I've met a few, so I don't think this should be a barrier for entry. Plus, I don't equate a fancy degree with intelligence or work ethic. Maybe because I came from a blue collar family, where almost no one in my immediate family went to college. Yet, they all have great careers (some in government)...But I understand your position and perspective. :) I just have soft spot for immigrants, for those simply trying to make a better life for their family, regardless of the country from which they came. And, your goal is to move to another country anyway. So, soon you will not have to deal with such issues. :) Have you made your decision on where you will go next?
(no subject) - sergey_usa - Sep. 27th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 27th, 2014 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sergey_usa - Sep. 27th, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 27th, 2014 08:08 am (UTC)
In all honesty I cannot fathom the logic of the DV process. There's a hefty amount of people on Russian-speaking immigrant forums who won the lottery without any intention to emmigrate, as they state. They played the lottery out of sheer curiosity. Moreover, there are people on those forums who, having won the lottery, but beeing scared of any change in their lives, have decided not to move to the US. At the same time there's a lot of well-educated professionals, speaking fluent English and able to add real value to the US society, who fail the lottery repeatedly for many years. In this regard, I think the Canadian or Australian-style emmigration system is more effective in bringing the best of the people.

P.S. I haven't seen the reply by sergey_usa above when I wrote mine. But it seems we're speaking about the same thing.

Edited at 2014-09-27 08:11 am (UTC)
Sep. 27th, 2014 06:27 pm (UTC)
I just replied to sergey_usa, so look there for my thoughts. I don't understand the Russians who apply just out of curiosity. They should feel ashamed, as they are taking a slot away from others who desperately wish to come to America. The U.S. government recognizes that some entrants will not even check to see if they won, some will decide not to come, others who are chosen won't pass background checks or other formalities. So, they actually give about 100,000 people notification of winning the lottery to ensure all 50 - 55,000 visa slots are filled. This diversity lottery isn't a stand alone law, it's part of the huge Immigration Act of 1990, which is in the process of being revised.
(no subject) - sergey_usa - Sep. 27th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 17th, 2014 02:48 pm (UTC)
my second attempt, why not
Oct. 17th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC)
Re: my second attempt, why not
Удачи! :))
Re: my second attempt, why not - fostral2 - Oct. 17th, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 64 comments — Leave a comment )


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