President Donald Trump has been pushing for immigration reform since he came into office in January, so this latest news isn’t that surprising to most: he wants to end the green card lottery. Every year for the past 22 years, 14 million people have applied for green cards through the Diversity Visa Lottery. Approximately 1 million people with no ties to the United States have been granted the American dream. As green card holders, they are granted permanent residency here in the U.S.
Trump wants to end this annual event, though, after finding out that the Uzbek immigrant who orchestrated the deadly truck attack in New York had won his green card through the lottery in 2010. His plan is to replace it with a merit-based system.
But can he get rid of the lottery on his own? The power ultimately lies in the hands of Congress. Congress would be tasked with creating new immigration laws. Immigration, however, is not a huge priority at the moment, with Congress currently focusing on fixing healthcare and taxes.
The lottery awards 50,000 green cards each year. The recipients are drawn at random by a computer. Those chosen do not need to have employment, sponsorship or any family ties to the U.S.
There are certain restrictions, though. The recipient must have a high school education and no connection to terrorism. They must also agree to an in-person interview with immigration officials. Also, people from countries where 50,000 green cards have been awarded in the past five years are not eligible. This includes countries such as Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, China and India.
While winning the lottery may seem like an easy way to get into the United States, there are other ways to become eligible for a green card. Many foreigners are able to get a green card through family or employment. Immediate relatives, such as spouses, parents and unmarried children of U.S. citizens are eligible. A fiance or widow of a U.S. citizen is also eligible.
You may also qualify for a green card based on your employment status. Immigrant workers may come to this country to work. First preference goes to those who are outstanding teachers or researchers, are multinational managers or have extraordinary ability in arts, business, education, science or athletics. Second preference goes to those who have an advanced degree or are seeking a national interest waiver. Third preference goes to professionals with bachelor’s degrees and those looking to work in skilled or unskilled labor.
Foreigners may also be eligible to apply as immigrant investors. This refers to a person who is investing $1 million in a new commercial enterprise in the United States and will be hiring 10 full-time workers.
Only certain people are eligible for green cards, so if you don’t win the lottery, you may have missed your chance at securing American citizenship. But not all hope is lost. Depending on your employment status and other factors, you could still live the American dream.
Whether you’re trying to become a U.S. citizen through a green card or some other method, the knowledgeable immigration attorneys at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC can help. Let us simplify the citizenship process. To get help with your immigration and citizenship needs in Illinois, give us a call today at (312) 332-2550 for a case evaluation.
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