There are many different ways an immigrant in Kentucky or elsewhere could obtain a "green card." The green-card lottery -- officially known as the diversity visa lottery -- gives individuals from certain nations the chance to obtain a green card. The lottery started in 1995, and its purpose is to make sure that the United States has diversity in its immigrants. Therefore, it applies to people who come from nations that are underrepresented in the U.S.
If a person meets the qualifications for the diversity visa lottery and is selected, then they may obtain a green card. This means that they'll enjoy all the privileges of being a permanent resident in the U.S., except for being able to vote. However, the number of individuals who will obtain a diversity visa lottery visa is very low.
Every year, 55,000 diversity permanent resident visas are granted. To apply for such a visa, a person must have graduated high school (or its equivalence) or must have work experience for two of the past five years in an occupation that necessitates two or more years of training. A State Department computer will select the diversity visa lottery winners, but the story doesn't end there. These individuals then must provide certain documents and then will go through an interview process at the U.S. embassy in the nation where they live. In the end, less than one percent of those who apply for a diversity visa lottery visa will be chosen and will go through the requisite background checks. Finally, if the background check reveals no issues that would disqualify someone, the individual will be granted a permanent residency visa.
In 2016, almost 50 percent of those who obtained a diversity visa lottery visa were from Africa. Specifically, the top individual nations represented in the diversity visa lottery that year were Iran, Egypt and Nepal. However, President Donald Trump proposes doing away with the diversity visa lottery as a condition for passing legislation that protects Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.
It remains to be seen whether legislation that has been introduced that would do away with the green-card lottery in favor of a points-based system will pass into law. Until then, the diversity visa lottery may be an immigration option for some. To learn more about this way to obtain a green card, interested individuals may want to discuss the matter with a legal professional.
Source: CNBC, "Less than 1 percent win the US green-card lottery - here's how it works," Brian Clark, March 5, 2018