San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Green Card Lottery Registration Opens for 2011

To millions of hopefuls across the world, winning the lottery doesn’t mean dollars but rather something else that’s green – a green card.

Dubbed the “Green Card Lottery,” the U.S. Diversity Immigration Visa Program is an annual congressionally mandated lottery that awards 50,000 permanent resident visas “to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.”

Fifty Ticos were selected for the 2011 Diversity Visas (DV-2011), compared to 74 selected the year before.

Lottery registration opened once again on Oct. 5 and will close on Nov. 3. There is no fee to apply and the process can be completed entirely online.

Being selected does not guarantee a green card however, as the lottery selects more than enough “winners” (100,600 this year) to account for those who fail to qualify or choose not to apply for citizenship, and therefore ensure all 50,000 visas are used.

Though the selection is random, the program requires a high school education or its equivalent to qualify to receive a visa, or an occupation that requires at least two years experience or training.

Other Central American countries boasted winners, including Panama with 31 and Nicaragua with 74. Countries such as Guatemala, Pakistan, Poland, Mexico, Peru and China were excluded from the list because of their high rates of immigration (50,000 or more legal immigrants in the last five years) to the United States.

Enacted in December 1995 under section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery has withstood several attacks from opponents aiming to eliminate the program. Some argue that it is an easy way for terrorists to enter the country, while others say it is susceptible to scams.

Other criticism comes from long-term temporary legal residents who argue against the fairness of the program. Why should so many long-term temporary legal residents have no direct way of obtaining citizenship, they argue, while 50,000 random people are awarded permanent citizenship?

Though the selection process is random, the visas are proportioned between five regions, with countries sending fewer immigrants in the last five years receiving more visas.

For more information or to submit an application, follow this link:

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