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What exactly is the Green Card?
The Green Card is the permission for unlimited residence and work in the U.S.A. the Forties as “Alien Registration Receipt Card”. The first of these credit card sized IDs bore green writing and a greenish photo. Thus, the expression “Green Card” was coined and quickly became common. Meanwhile the Green Card has changed its color several times. For a while it had even been pink, since 1999 a light green shade is used again. More than 10 million foreigners are currently living in the U.S.A. on a Green Card.
The Green Card Program
The U.S. is proud to be a country of immigrants. However, far more people are coming to the U.S.A. from certain countries than from others. Just those immigrating from Mexico, China and the Philippines are by far outnumbering those from most of the other countries accumulated. In order to maintain a diversity in the population, U.S. laws regulate immigration from particular regions of the world.
For this reason the U.S.A. do annually distribute 55,000 GreenCards randomly since 1994. The only prerequisite apart from the eligible native country is a certain level of education. You can find detailed information under “conditions for participation”.
Excluded are only those countries with a rate of immigrants to the U.S.A. far above average over the last five years. But it is possible that these excluded countries can participate again in coming years.
The Diversity Visa (DV) Program is based complete text here. The Immigration and Naturalization Service INS determines the eligible countries and application rules based on a calculation laid down in a law. These rules can change from year to year.
History of the Green Card Program
Since 1994 the program has already been executed three times in February, once in November and three times in October. The responsible institution changed in 2000. The formerly appointed National Visa Center in Portsmouth had to hand the processing over to the Kentucky Consular Center, which since then is in charge for receipt and evaluation of the applications.
In the first year it was still possible to enter several applications per person. This lead to a few persons applying hundreds of times and thus most probably receiving a Green Card. The effects were a completely overloaded institution and injustices in the distribution, as better off persons could file more applications. Since then each person is only entitled to submit one application per year and has to trust in Fortuna … however, chances are still quite good.