How random is the Green Card Lottery

The green card: how do I get the coveted immigration permit?

Key facts at a glance:

Holders of a green card can stay in the USA for an unlimited period of time - you do not automatically have American citizenship.
With the green card, which has to be renewed regularly, you are entitled to state benefits and the right to freely choose your place of work and your place of residence.
There are three different ways to get the green card: through professional achievements, relatives in the USA or winning the green card lottery.
The green card lottery takes place every year and gives 55,000 winners the opportunity to apply for a green card. For the actual application, however, there are some requirements - not every winner is suitable for the green card.

From dishwasher to millionaire: Many people dream of a life in the USA - but how do you get hold of the coveted one Residency permit? First of all: the way to the green card is complicated. If you still want to know how you can lead a life on American land, you will find all the important information about the green card in the following text.

What actually is a green card?

The United States Permanent Resident Card - also known as a green card in common parlance - is a Identification documentissued by the United States Immigration Service. It allows people who are not US citizens to immigrate, live and work in the United States.

Holders of the green card are called Lawful Permanent Residents denotes: This means that they are using this ID for an indefinite period are allowed to stay in the USA.

The name Greencard is derived from the colour of the first ID, which was printed on green paper at the time - even today the ID has retained its eponymous basic color.

What is the difference between a visa and a green card?

Although the green card is also known as an immigrant visa, it differs from a regular visa in two important ways:

A green card allows its holder to register temporary unlimited and not tied to a purpose reside in the US.

A visa, on the other hand, is always for a certain period of time limited and to a particular one Purpose bound.

For example, you can apply for a work visa, a visa for special research in the US, a visa for athletes who want to compete, a visa for interns or trainees who want to do their training in the states, or a press visa.

For example, if you have a Work visa then you are always bound to the company that was specified as the qualifying company in the application - a change of employer is therefore not possible. With a green card, on the other hand, this is not a problem. Not even if you have qualified for it through your job.

If you're only planning a short trip to the United States, you can ESTA application put. The electronic passport allows you to enter the USA and stay there for a maximum of 90 days at a time. It is valid for two years.

Does the green card have to be extended?

The green card is valid indefinitely, but - similar to an identity card - must all ten years to be renewed. Your status does not lose its validity, only the ID itself.

Without a valid green card, it's hard to see your status as a Permanent resident to prove and you are likely to fail in many formalities - for example when applying for a driver's license or opening a bank account. If you are abroad when your green card expires, you are re-entering the USA not possible.

This is why you should no later than six months before expiry apply for a new green card.

Do I automatically have US citizenship through the green card?

The green card allows you to live and work in the United States, but you are not automatically a US citizen. You can get citizenship at the earliest five years apply after you have received the green card.

Please note that you will lose your current citizenship - you can, however, submit a separate application for a dual citizenship to get. To do this, you have to contact the competent authority in your home country: They will then check whether you are maintaining an ongoing relationship with your home country and whether you thus qualify for dual citizenship.

What are my obligations as a green card holder?

If you have a green card, there are of course a few Dutiesyou have to pay attention to:

  • You have to carry the green card with you at all times.
  • You must report a change in your place of residence to the immigration authorities within ten days.
  • You have to renew the green card in due time.
  • You have to obey the laws of the USA.
  • As part of the tax return, you have to pay tax on your worldwide income in the USA.
  • If you are staying abroad for more than a year, you must submit a re-entry application.

What rights do I have as a green card holder?

Although you are not yet a US citizen with the possession of a green card, you are entitled to numerous rights and benefits. Just that Suffrage is denied to you. With the green card you have:

  • permanent residency in the states.
  • a right to apply for US citizenship.
  • Entitlement to state and social benefits.
  • the right to a free choice of job,
  • the right to freely choose your place of residence.
  • unlimited travel within the United States.
  • a simplified entry into the USA.

How much does the green card cost?

The application for the green card is always free of charge. However, there are still a few after that fees for examinations and processing fees to:

  • Between 200 and 400 euros for a medical examination
  • Around 280 euros for processing fees at the American consulate
  • An immigration fee of 187 euros

You also have to provide financial proof of your savings: The recommended amount is between 5,000 and 10,000 euros as an individual - for a family, accordingly, more must be available. So you need a certain amount of start-up capital if you want to emigrate to the USA.

How do I get a green card?

Basically there is three different waysto get a green card:

  • You get it thanks to your professional achievements.
  • Relatives of yours already live in the United States.
  • You win the green card lottery.

We will now go through each variant step by step, list the requirements for a successful application and tell you how high the chances are of getting a green card.

Professional qualification

Individuals with special skills who have a valuable contribution for the US are attractive immigrants. For this reason, there is a list of different groups of people who can obtain a permanent residence permit through certain services or investments.

  • Persons of national interest: This category includes, for example, outstanding researchers or internationally recognized athletes.
  • People with special skills: These can be people who, for example, have exceptional scientific or artistic skills. The prerequisite for this, however, is that there is a specific job offer from a US employer and that no suitable US citizen can be recruited who would also be qualified for the position.
  • Academics and qualified specialists: This includes people with a higher education qualification or professionals who have at least two years of work experience and are needed in the United States. Here, too, however, no US citizen may be available who would also be qualified for the position.
  • Church staff: These people must have worked for a church or congregation for at least two years.
  • Investors: Investors have to invest a certain amount in a US business enterprise, which creates at least ten new jobs.

It becomes clear that you usually have a exceptional qualification must have in order to get a green card through your professional success or an American employer. Few people can meet these requirements.

Family reunion

If you have a relative in the US who is a US citizen or already has a green card, it may be for you much easierto attain one yourself.

Your relative can submit an application Family reunion so that his family members can also immigrate to the USA. Depending on the degree of relationship, there may be different waiting times.

When a US citizen If you want to bring your spouse, parents or children under the age of 21 to the USA, you will receive a green card without waiting.

However, if the relative in the USA himself only has a green card, then the spouse and children under the age of 21 can only enter the USA after a two-year waiting period. The annual number of family-based green cards is limited in this case, so the waiting time can be even longer.

If your child is already over 21 years old or married, the waiting period can even be between seven and up to 23 years lie.

There is one with the green card for spouses special regulation: Anyone who married less than two years ago before submitting the application will initially only receive the document with reservations - after two more years the marriage will be checked again and only then will a green card be issued for life. The background to this is that many immigrants only marry in order to obtain unlimited residence permits - which is illegal in the USA.

Family reunification through the green card is therefore not a problem in most cases - even if under certain circumstances longer waiting times to be able to approach you. Nevertheless, the people who want to enter are checked very carefully - their application can still be rejected.

How do I apply for a green card?

If you are professionally qualified for a green card or have family members in the US, you can apply for a green card: You can do this by handing it to the US immigration service, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), fill in a form and provide all the necessary evidence.

You don't just have to provide all of the required information you qualify for the green card, but also yours Guarantors - your employer or a relative in the United States. Among other things, it will check whether he is able to support you financially, where he is domiciled and what his legal status is.

If all formalities are correct, the application will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). Here are some physical examination and finally one Interview appointment in an American embassy. This is to ensure that there are no health risks or safety concerns with your immigration.

First after this conversation a final decision will be made as to whether you will actually receive a green card.

If you don't have a special waiting time, as is often the case with the family-based green card, your application can be processed between six to twelve months last.

The green card lottery

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program in the USA is an alternative to the usual applications for a green card: Here, luck is the decisive factor. The program is therefore also popularly known as the “Green Card Lottery”.

Contrary to what the name suggests, you don't win a green card directly in the lottery: you just win the opportunity to sign up for a green card to apply. Every year the US State Department randomly draws 55,000 winners.

Why are green cards being raffled?

Behind this green card lottery is not arbitrariness, but an idea that should benefit the USA:

The lottery was introduced in 1987 by US President Ronald Reagan. She should help that Diversity of immigrantswho come to the USA - hence the name: “Diversity Immigrant Visa Program”. It is intended to strengthen the country's diversity.

For this reason, certain countries are excluded from the lottery every year if there have been too many immigrants from this region in previous years.

When does the lottery take place?

The green card lottery takes place every year in the autumn instead of - mostly around the month of October - and exclusively online.

In spring, the results of the draw will be announced online - each participant will receive a number with which they can find out about their status.

If you have won, you will receive one in the summer official notification with the appropriate forms. If you send this back, you have officially accepted the win of the green card lottery and the next steps will be initiated.

Important: There are just one official website for the green card lottery! If you find another site that supposedly offers this service, it's Scam.

Requirements for participation in the lottery

In the lottery, more winners will be drawn than green cards will be raffled off. This is because some participants do not accept the prize at all or later get stuck in the selection process.

In order to participate successfully in the green card lottery, you have to have a few requirements fulfill:

  • Your country of birth must be eligible for the lottery be admitted.
  • You have to Secondary school leaving certificate or have completed vocational training with at least two years of professional experience.
  • None speak health reasons against immigration.
  • You have a flawless one criminal record certificate.
  • There is none Security concerns if you immigrated because of terrorism or espionage.
  • You have a sufficient one Seed capital, a job offer, or a sponsor in the United States.
  • There must be no problem with a previous one illegal immigration or because of violations of the immigration law.
  • You have a valid passport.
  • You've never been out of the US expelled.

There are no minimum age limitto register for the lottery. However, it is unlikely that a minor will qualify for successful participation.

What documents do I need to register for the green card lottery?

When you sign up for the lottery, you will following data queried:

  • Name first Name
  • Date, place and country of birth
  • address
  • Passport information
  • a biometric passport photo
  • your level of education
  • your marital status

Here you not only have to specify your spouse, but also all biological, adopted and also stepchildren under the age of 21. You also have to indicate illegitimate children and the children of your spouse - even if you do not have custody of these children. If you win, you can decide which of these children should actually receive the green card.

Should you win the chance for a green card, you have to get yours Interview in an American consulate Submit additional documents - all of which must be submitted as a certified translation.

In order to have a chance of winning a green card at all, it is important that all of your information must be entered correctly in the online form.

For this reason, many people who dream of living in the USA turn to a so-called green card agency.

What is a green card agency?

Green card agencies specialize in helping you sign up for the green card lottery. But caution is advised here!

Many green card agencies promise that by signing up with them would increase your chances of winning a green card - However, the lottery draw is one hundred percent random and cannot be influenced from outside.

Even the American embassy warns against agencies that charge fees to register for the lottery or promise you a higher chance of winning.

Serious agencies, on the other hand, offer the service, your application for the lottery to check them out make surethat all formal requirements are met and that the application is submitted to the US authorities on time. You even have the option of taking out a subscription so that the agency will register you for the lottery in the years to come without you having to worry about it again.

Agencies like “The American Dream” even do state-certified emigration advisor busy, will also help you with everything you have to consider after winning the green card. They support you until your first entry into the USA.

Of course, at this point you are right to ask yourself whether it makes sense to pay for such a service when the registration itself is actually free of charge. However, one can handle this situation well with the service of one Tax advisor to compare:

Submitting and completing the tax return is fundamentally for every citizen free - as the procedure is too complicated for some people and involves a lot of effort, they prefer to entrust this task to someone else.

So it is more a question of attitude, whether you take the trouble to fill out the application correctly yourself and, for example, in Emigrant forums Looking for help, or whether you go to an appropriate agency with your concern.

Getting a green card: who is actually allowed to travel to the USA?

Should you get a green card, you can your spouse and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one also received one.

You even have one more after winning the green card lottery half a yearto marry your partner so he can come to the US with you. If you have a child during this time, they will of course also receive a green card.

For married couples So the chances are doubled with the green card lottery: Because only one person has to win to give both of them the green card.

Do I have to emigrate as soon as I have received the green card?

Of course, if you win a green card in the lottery, you don't have to emigrate immediately. You even have one year timeto even accept the profit.

However, the green card is only issued if you actually intend to focus on your life permanent to relocate to the USA - a decision that should be considered carefully.

However, it is also not a problem if you are between the USA and your home country in the first few years commute. However, you are not allowed to leave the USA for more than twelve months after receiving the green card without a special permit.

Can you lose the green card again?

Under certain circumstances you can get the green card again withdrawn become:

  • You lose the green card if you get the Accept US citizenship or
  • if you are a resident of the US give up or
  • you commit an act that Violates the immigration law and leads to expulsion - for example, illegal possession of drugs or weapons.
  • It should come out that you got the green card through Scam you will also lose your status as a Permanent resident.
  • You can also take out the green card give free piecesby signing an appropriate form and showing it to a U.S. ambassador or USICIS official.

Criminal offenses can lead to expulsion years later. Under US President Donald Trump, the government is pursuing one Zero tolerance strategy with regard to immigration to the US.

The green card under Donald Trump

As part of the zero tolerance strategy practiced under Donald Trump, numerous immigrants have been arrested for deportation - even those who have a valid residence permit, such as the green card. They will also be detained if they are guilty of another criminal offense despite legal immigration - even if this was years ago.

Under the administration of Donald Trump, the laws for legal immigration are still intended be tightened further:

Immigration is mainly for needy immigrants much more difficult. In the future, authorities will be able to reject applicants if they have a low income and are dependent on state aid.

This already includes the use of Grocery cards or applying for Housing benefit. Those who already have the green card and are dependent on public aid can no longer obtain US citizenship.

With this new regulation it should be ensured that the immigrants are financially independent and government support instead goes to needy Americans, the White House statement said. In making this decision, the government relied on the fact that, according to the current legal situation, immigrants should not be a burden for US society.

In November 2019, another tightening of the immigration law came into force: anyone who wants to immigrate to the USA must prove that they have their Health care costs can wear yourself or a corresponding one Health insurance owns.

Resistance to the difficult conditions

These decisions already created strong opposition. Some US states have filed lawsuits against the government. The new law would make it difficult for people in need from Africa and Latin America in particular to get a green card, which, in their opinion, speaks against equality. Out of fear for the green card lottery disqualified Many people are already foregoing aid programs in their home country.

So it turns out that the path to the green card will probably not be easier in the future - on the contrary. However, for most people, the green card lottery continues to be that best chanceto get this unrestricted residence permit, even if many requirements have to be met here. The biggest factor, however, remains: luck.

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