Tag Archives: permanent residency

Top 5 Misconceptions about US Immigration

It is interesting amongst all the about US Immigration and foreigners trying to navigate the system to live, work and study in the US so many common misconceptions exists about the most basic elements of Immigration. So just thought it would interesting to do a mini piece on these fallacies which are held by foreigners and US residents alike.

1. The vast majority of illegal immigrants come across the Mexican border
This is not even close to true with Pew research suggests that up to 50% of the 11m illegal immigrants in the US currently are visa overstayers usually on the Visa Waiver and B-1/B-2 business and tourist visas. Thus a great portion of illegal immigrants in the US are from countries like the UK, Ireland, Canada, etc. Another argument used to stricter land border control is terrorism which may be sound but often the 9/11 attacks are used as the basis of this when all the hijackers arrived here legally on a visa by plane.

2. Foreigners can just come to the US, apply for jobs and start working and change jobs when they desire
This as far from the reality as can be the case. A foreigner needs to have a sponsor employer to begin working in the US under visas like the H-1B, TN-1E-3, or L-1. Each of these visas have very specific criteria around background experience and qualifications, nature of the role, annual visa quotas, minimum pay level, whether family can work, fees, etc. To get a job usually involves coming to the US and interviewing with many companies but there is no visa that allows that. You can only get a work visa after you have secured employment and coming to the US on tourist visas to search for work is both officially and unofficially frowned upon and can result in border agents preventing you entering the US at all. So you may see a Catch 22 here. Additionally if you want to change employers, this whole process largely needs to happen again and you can’t just start a new job because the work visa is tied to the employer. Additionally every work visa has a limit and some can only be renewed a finite amount of times and even the ones that can be renewed technically indefinitely may be denied.

3. An Immigrant can stay in the US and can apply for or are eligible for a Green Card
There are only 4 main ways to get a Green Card; being family sponsored, being company sponsored, investing a large amount of money in the US or winning the Green Card Lottery. There is an exception for truly exceptional individuals but this is largely used by elite athletes, global prize winners in the fields (i.e. nobel, oscar, etc.) and top 1% folks and it is strict process. Therefore someone who has been working in for US for 6 years on H-1B and may have studied here on an F-1 Visa for Undergrad, Master’s & PhD over up to 10 years and thus has been living and paying taxes in the US for 15 years has no more claim current on a Green Card than a new worker who just arrived.

4. Immigrants as a whole take more from the US welfare system than they contribute and lower US wages
On average across all foreign born adults they pay about $7,800 in taxes and receive about $4,400 from the major US Government programs. If the foreigner is university educated this gap gets a lot wider. 52% of high tech Silicon Valley firms have at least one foreign founder and they include some of the biggest names in the industry from Google, Yahoo, Paypal, eBay, etc. Immigrants start more business per month than US Citizens by close to 100,000 and earn 3x the number of patent awards. Additionally working visa holders don’t have access to things like Unemployment Insurance, Medicare and Social Security even though they taxes into all these programs.
Finally work visa Immigrants have to be paid at least the prevailing wage which is essentially the average wage US workers are being paid for the same job in the same area of the country. This is set by the US Department of Labor and is updated yearly.

5. Marrying a US Citizen guarantees a foreigner the right to stay or live in the US
Actually whether the marriage takes place outside or inside the US, a legal marriage be it straight or gay, is only the beginning of a costly process and arduous process to determine whether the foreigner is allowed to legally reside in the US. This includes multiple forms, detailed background and fingerprint checks, thousands of dollars in fees, financial support documents showing significant assets and income, reference affidavits and proof documents including joint assets/photos/correspondence/leases, at least one interview and several more steps and this takes places over a period of many months or longer depending on the case. Denial rates


Green Card Lottery Begins October 2013 (DV-2015)

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.

  1. 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)
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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.

Good Luck,