The Green Card Immigration Lottery

Winning a lottery is a wonderful thing, but the chances of winning this particular Green Card Lottery for a chance to live in the U.S., while not bad, are not that high given the nature of the U.S. Immigration system.

It’s sad, but very true that the U.S. Immigration system has so many loopholes, glitches, corruption, ridiculous policies, and incomprehensible rules and regulations that it takes a highly experienced immigration lawyer to sort things out. Imagine how an immigrant would feel trying to figure out this complex and constantly changing system just to live in the U.S.

No wonder immigrants hope to win the lottery – and we don’t mean the regular lottery where you win money – we mean the Diversity Visa Lottery that offers 55,000 permanent residency Visas to foreigners, so long as they follow all the rules and regulations. That might be tough since those seem to change on a daily basis. Nonetheless, this Visa would give the lucky one an opportunity to become a U.S. citizen after 3 to 5 years.

The major reason why so many immigrants like to enter their names in this lottery is because it is free, as opposed to hiring an immigration lawyer, which may be necessary later during their residency in the U.S. The operative word here is free, and if anyone charges a person for entering the lottery, it is a scam. Period.

All that is required to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery is filling out a form, usually in English, and that is it. Don’t worry if you happen to have a spouse and/or children, as they would receive a Visa as well, so long as their background check comes out OK.

This is how things usually work, mind you, it may be subject to change without notice, and it would not hurt if you contacted a qualified immigration lawyer to ask questions. Better to be safe than sorry. You are usually able to fill out Visa applications from early October to early December, and you may actually do this online.

So if you need help with translation, get a friend to assist you with filling out this form. It’s pretty straightforward and you only need the basics, such as name, address, phone number, SS number, etc.

You won’t know if you have won the lottery until May of the following year and you are only contacted by snail mail, or regular post. If you were successful, your Visa would then kick in the year following that.

In other words, if you apply in 2010 and if you are chosen in that year’s drawing, you would be advised in 2011, and your Visa would take effect in 2012. Then you would get a DV 2012 card when it was issued. Nothing like taking forever and a day to find out if you get a chance to live in the U.S. In all cases when faced with questions or concerns about the U.S. immigration process, contact a highly trained immigration lawyer, and make sure you are on the right side of the law. The first consultation is usually free.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more about immigration lawyer in miami, immigration lawyer in orlando, immigration lawyer in florida, visit

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