We have been writing about these Immigration Reform posts now for over 5 years and it is largely getting tiresome because it an endless stream of idea, proposals and politics and over that time almost nothing has actually been done that change the situation for foreigners or benefits the US economy as a whole.
President Obama in his State of the Union Address on January 28th didn’t devote that much time to Immigration Reform, especially compared to other recent major speeches. The basic message was to get it done and it seems that he is willing to sign on on partial reforms sent to him by the House of Representatives piece by piece or a modified version of the major reform bill passed by the US Senate in the Summer of 2013.
Funnily enough I have always been skeptical of these types of controversial issues passing in election years (this is a midterm election year), however reading between the lines and almost the fact that not much is being said by other side about Immigration almost leaves me quietly confident. It tends to be when politicians are in the media trying to make crazy arguments that nothing seems to get done but when they are quieter bills seem to pass.
These are my expectations on the main proposed changes of Immigration Reform that the Senate already voted on;
- Undocumented Immigrants pathway to Citizenship & Dream Act: I expect a modified version of this to pass largely prohibiting citizenship but giving PR / Green Card status after a period of time to most kids brought to the US by parents without documentation probably with an education or military service type provision
- High Skilled Immigration changes: As most of these changes are largely technical and tend to be agreed upon by both sides I imagine these will pass with increased quotas for the H-1B visa, increased access to Green Cards particularly for STEM graduates and flexibility to hire foreign workers to greater or lesser degree depending on the economic need of the time
- Low Skilled Immigration changes: This is one of the parts of the Immigration bill that has supporters and opponents on both sides and thus may actually be the toughest to pass. Ultimately new work visa types for farm workers, construction, laborers, etc will largely depend on the business side of the Republican party winning out and convincing members of the need to continue to improve perception particularly with Latino voters. Democrat opposition will come largely from the Unions but since they largely signed off on the original version in the Senate bill and the economy has been improving that should still hold true.
- Green Card changes: There are a lot of technical changes here to process, quotas, nationality limits, elimination of the Green Card lottery and clearing the backlog of people waiting many years. Ultimately the main change proposed here is philosophical and moving the US away from an immigration system away from a family first system to a merit and economic first system. This would be more in line with the rest of the developed world’s immigration systems. There are things like putting greater focus on foreign entrepreneurs creating startups in the US and less of relative driven immigration particularly foreign brothers and sisters of US citizens and permanent residents. There is a lot of weird coalitions on both sides in favor of and against these changes and other than the elimination of the lottery and equivalent Green Cards made available to high skilled immigrants in stead, these proposed changes will probably face a tougher path ahead to pass in full
In the midst of US Congress dysfunction and a US Government shutdown, the Diversity Visa Lottery 2015 (DV-2015) or as it’s unofficially known, the Green Card Lottery began yesterday. In short the Green Card Lottery is an annual lottery run by the US State Department as designated by US Immigration law that is FREE to enter with the end result being Permanent Residency for 55,000 lucky winners around the world.
The lottery entry period begins on October 1, 2013 and concludes on November 2, 2013 so be sure you enter during this period as no exceptions are made and the last couple of days because of load there may be computer glitches. At the end of completing your online form, you will be given a confirmation number which you should record as that is how you can check if you won online around April/May 2014 when they announce the results. You will be officially notified by mail if you win.
It is called DV-2015 because the winners would get a Green Card commencing at the beginning of the US Immigration fiscal year 2015 which begins on October 1, 2014. Now while the lottery is FREE to enter (so don’t fall for all the various scams that try and charge you to enter as it is fully run on the US Government website) and it is only 10 basic personal questions to answer online along with uploading a passport size style photo, there are some important criteria to note which could disqualify your entry and/or make you ineligible to enter at all.
- You can only enter once for yourself (although you can enter once and your spouse could enter once and if either of you won, the other could be eligible as a spouse of a winner)
- Participants born in the following countries are NOT eligible to enter this year’s lottery. (the reason why they are ineligible is because the US Goverment has determined there were already enough people who became Permanent Residents of the US from these nations through other avenues as this lottery is intended to be about greater diversity for the US)
- In Central & South America whose natives are not eligible for this year’s diversity program:
Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica and Peru.
- In North America, natives of Canada and Mexico are not eligible this year
- In Europe, native from these countries are not eligible for this year’s DV program: Great Britain
(United Kingdom). Great Britain (United Kingdom) includes the following dependent areas: Anguilla,
Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena,
and Turks and Caicos Islands. Note that for purposes of the diversity program only, Northern Ireland is
treated separately; Northern Ireland does qualify and is listed among the qualifying areas. Macau S.A.R. does qualify and is listed above.
- In Asia these countries are not eligible for this year’s diversity program: Bangladesh, China (mainland-born), India, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines, and Vietnam. Hong Kong S.A.R. (Asia region), Macau S.A.R. (Europe region), and Taiwan (Asia region) do qualify and are listed here
- In Africa, natives of Nigeria are not eligible for this year
- There are a couple of exceptions to the above if you were born in a non-eligible country this year. This includes;
- Was your spouse born in a country whose natives are eligible? If yes, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth provided that both you and your spouse are named on the selected entry, are issued diversity visas, and enter the United States simultaneously
- Were you born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but in which neither of your parent was born or legally resident at the time of your birth? If yes, you may claim nativity in one of our parents’ countries of birth if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV-2015 program
- The primary entrant must have completed a high school level education (i.e. 12 years of schooling) OR have two years of work experience in the past 5 years where at least 2 years of experience or training was required to perform the job
- If you are qualifying under the work requirement go to O*Net Online, you need to have a job that classified as Job Zone 4 or 5 with a rating of 7.0 or higher.1. Under “Find Occupations” select “Job Family” from the pull down;
2. Browse by “Job Family”, make your selection, and click “GO”;
3. Click on the link for your specific occupation.
4. Select the tab “Job Zone” to find the designated Job Zone number and Specific Vocational Preparation
(SVP) rating range
- For the online form itself the following information is required;
- 1. Name – last/family name, first name, middle name – exactly as on your passport
- Birth date – day, month, year.
- Gender – male or female.
- City where you were born.
- Country where you were born – Use the name of the country currently used for the place where you were born
- Country of eligibility for the DV Program – Your country of eligibility will normally be the same as your country of birth. Your country of eligibility is not related to where you live. If you were born in a country that is not eligible then check the above comments about country eligibility to see if another method may apply
- Entrant photograph(s) – Recent photographs of yourself, your spouse and all your children listed. You do not need to include a photograph for a spouse or child who is already a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident, but you will not be penalized if you do. Group photographs will not be accepted; you must submit a photograph for each individual. Your entry may be disqualified or visa refused if the photographs are not recent, have been manipulated in any way, or do not meet the specifications required
- Mailing Address – this is where your winner notification and instructions will be sent so ensure it is correct
- Country where you live today
- Phone number (optional)
- E-mail address
- Highest level of education you have achieved, as of today: (1) Primary school only, (2) Some high school, no diploma, (3) High school diploma, (4) Vocational school, (5) Some university courses, (6) University degree, (7) Some graduate-level courses, (8) Master’s degree, (9) Some doctoral – level courses, and (10) Doctorate
- Current marital status – Unmarried, married, divorced, widowed, or legally separated. Enter the name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, country of birth of your spouse, and a photograph of your spouse meeting the same technical specifications as your photo
- Number of children – List the Name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, and country of birth for all living unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of whether or not they are living with you or intend to accompany or follow to join you should you immigrate to the United States. Submit individual photographs of each of your children using the same technical specifications as your own photo. Be sure to include; all living natural children, all living children legally adopted by you and, all living step-children who are unmarried and under the age of 21 on the date of your electronic entry, even if you are no longer legally married to the child’s parent, and even if the child does not currently reside with you and/or will not immigrate with you. (Married children and children over the age of 21 are not eligible for the DV. However, the Child Status Protection Act protects children from “aging out” in certain circumstances. If your DV entry is made before your unmarried child turns 21, and the child turns 21 before visa issuance, he/she may be treated as though he/she were under 21 for visa-processing purposes)
The official Green Card Lottery complete instructions are as per this US State Department link and may be worth reading if you are unsure of anything and to help ensure you don’t do things that would compromise your online entry.
Another tip I would give all readers is to do the application in Internet Explorer or Firefox as browsers as it tends to work best without errors. Also remember to save a copy of your confirmation page which you will give you a confirmation number to check your results later.
To get an idea of how many people from each country applied in past years you can look at official country statistics from the US Government here for the DV-2013 Green Card Lottery which ran in 2011 with winners announced in 2012.
Because of current proposed US Immigration reform 2013, which has already passed the US Senate, and has general acceptance on both sides, this may be the LAST EVER GREEN CARD LOTTERY. Although if no immigration reform is passed the Green Card Lottery will remain in future years.