diversity immigrant visa / green card lotteryLast updated
Established by the Immigration Act of 1990, the diversity immigrant visa program makes available up to 50,000 immigrant visas annually, with the aim of diversifying the US immigrant population. Unlike other immigration programs, beneficiaries of this lottery are not required to have special skills or family connections in the US. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 14 million people applied for the program each year. The program has faced repeated attempts at discontinuation by members of both political parties.
The program is more commonly referred to as the “green card lottery” or just “the lottery,” particularly among immigrants. Critics of the program say that its selection process is unfair, that it brings in low-skilled immigrants, and that it poses security risks.
Each year, citizens of several countries are deemed ineligible for the program, as their nationalities are already strongly represented among the US immigrant population. In order to be eligible, applicants must have at least a high school education or have completed two years of work experience in the past five years. Those who are selected at the start of the process must supply several supporting documents as part of their application.
The program is often contrasted with “merit-based immigration” or “skilled immigration,” though some experts argue that this contrast is rooted in racist ideas of there being “right” and “wrong” kinds of immigrants.
If the origins of a migrant’s lawful permanent residence are important to a story, the formal term “diversity immigrant visa” is more accurate than “green card lottery,” though it’s helpful to consider the relevance of including someone’s method of entry in an unrelated story.
- What is the diversity visa lottery? (CNN)
- Guide to the Diversity Visa: Demographics, Criminality, and Terrorism Risk (Cato Institute)
- What’s behind the desire for ‘skilled’ immigrants? Racial prejudice. (Washington Post)
- ‘A Chuck Schumer beauty’: Trump calls for end to diversity visa program (Washington Post)
The diversity immigrant visa program, a.k.a. “green card lottery,” is a US government program for receiving lawful permanent residence in the United States. If the origins of a migrant’s lawful permanent residence are important to a story, the formal term “diversity immigrant visa” is more accurate than “green card lottery,” though it’s helpful to consider the relevance of including someone’s method of entry in an unrelated story.