Rabat - The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV), also known as the “Green Card Lottery” is a U.S. government-run program that offers up to 55,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) annually, free of charge, to eligible applicants from qualifying countries.
Rabat – The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV), also known as the “Green Card Lottery” is a U.S. government-run program that offers up to 55,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) annually, free of charge, to eligible applicants from qualifying countries.
Through a computerized drawing system, the Green Card Lottery program is run by the State Department and overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.
The system picks applicants randomly from all entries and issues immigrant visas to individuals who meet strict, yet simple eligibility requirements. The DV Lottery targets countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
Since 1995, the Green Card DV Lottery program, a congressionally-mandated program, has intended to diversify the flow of immigrants entering the United States. While the program randomly picks applicants from countries with lower recent rates of immigration, it was envisioned to focus on African countries, Ireland, and some other Asian countries. Africans continue to make up the majority of the green card winners.
According to U.S. State Department figures, from 2009 to 2011, Africans made up about 50% of all DV Green Card Lottery visa recipients. However, the trend is decreasing with some African countries being excluded from the upcoming DV Lottery. Countries such as Nigeria, with a large flow of immigrants to the U.S. in the last few years, is not eligible to participate in the upcoming DV Green Card Lottery program. Central Asians are now the second most admitted group.
While some African countries are being disqualified from participating in the DV Green Card Lottery program, the number of Lottery winners from countries such as Morocco is increasing, according to the State Department figures. The table below shows a 35% increase in Moroccan DV Lottery winners in the last five years of the Green Card Lottery program.
In the last few years, the U.S. DV Green Card Lottery program suffered from some PR issues due to the proliferation of fraudulent entities posing as the U.S. government or intermediary agencies. The scammers trick applicants into sending money to help them in the application process. The U.S. government continuously monitors and issues warnings to inform the public about this kind of fraud, and deter these scammers who prey on individuals wishing to immigrate to the U.S.
The Immigration Act of 1990 established the Diversity Visa (DV) program, where 55,000 immigrant visas became available in an annual lottery, starting in fiscal year 1995. The lottery aimed to diversify the immigrant population coming to the United States by selecting applicants mostly from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States known as diversity countries. The number of immigrants arriving in the U.S. is calculated through mathematical formula by the office of the Attorney General of the United States. Starting in fiscal year 1999, 5,000 visas from the DV program became reserved for use by the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act program, so the number of DV immigrant visas available in the lottery was reduced to 50,000.
There are strict but simple requirements to qualify for the Green Card Lottery visas. If the applicants do not meet the requirements,they should not submit an entry to the DV program as the State Department and the consular offices carefully verifies whether applicants meet all the requirements. To qualify for a visa under this program, an applicant must be native of or chargeable into a diversity country, which is subject to change each year, and have a high school diploma, also known as baccalauréate certificate in certain countries. Alternatively, they must have within five years of the date of application, at least two years of work experience in an eligible occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.
According to the U.S Embassy in Morocco, “in recent years, a significant number of Moroccan Lottery winners lacked the qualifications which led to their visa’s refusal at the time of the interview.” Adhering to the information publicized by Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) about the educational and professional criteria that applicants must meet to qualify for a Diversity Visa is critical to avoid such a situation.
The embassy also stated that “the determination as to whether an applicant qualifies for the DV occurs during the interview with the consular officer who refers to the Department of Labor’s website to determine if an applicant qualifies based on work experience.” The interview, costs a non-refundable $330 processing fee which must be paid by each entrant prior to the interview date. Thus, unqualified applicants could invest a considerable amount of money and time only to be denied the visa. “Therefore, Moroccan citizens, as any other applicants considering the Diversity Visa, are advised to review the qualification criteria information provided by KCC.”
Distribution and Lottery Process
In order to meet the Lottery visa quotas, the State Department notifies more “winners” than the actual number of the allocated Green Card Lottery visas. This over-notification allows for the applicants who drop out during the 18 months process, and those who do not qualify because they lack the minimum eligibility requirements. In the year 2013, there were more than 12.5 Million applications for the DV Green card Lottery submitted through the Department of State’s Electronic Diversity Visa website, of which there were 119,443 Moroccans. Only 2,068 of them actually obtained the Green Card Lottery visa.
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