U.S. Green Card: Should you try your luck through the Green Card Lottery Program?

By Eunice Buenaventura

It’s no secret that being undocumented in any foreign land poses huge challenges and less to no access to good opportunities whether in education, career, or a better quality of life in general. Immigrants risk their lives to cross borders or travel to another country like the United States in search for a better quality of life or sometimes, to simply be safe from all the dangers present in their home country. However, freedom in the U.S. must go through proper immigration process and acquiring proper visas or documentations such as a green card.

Many immigrants hope for a better life and one of the most common destinations for them is the United States. The diversity of immigrants coming into the U.S. is not widely known. In fact, the U.S. workforce is composed of a significant number of immigrants. Sadly, many immigrants often arrive in the U.S. through extreme ways such as crossing the borders or overstaying which constantly causes extreme fear of getting caught or worse, getting deported.

What many immigrants do not know yet is that there are several options that are available to explore in order to acquire the legal papers that match their needs. Choosing the strategies and ways in order to legalize their stay in the United States is not a simple decision to make.

The conditions one has as an immigrant, timelines, documents, people to trust, and money are factors that are considered by most undocumented immigrants when applying for a visa, a green card, or a travel or work permit.

One of the ways to attain a green card is through a lottery. But, what is this program called Green Card Lottery and why are immigrants drawn into joining it?

Why many are choosing to try their luck through the EDVP

Applying for a visa here in the United States is very costly for most immigrants. Many immigrants have jobs that pay below the minimum. Most cannot complain since they are staying in the U.S. illegally, exposing them to workplace abuse, unfair treatments, and very, very low wages. These factors often restrain immigrants to consider processing their papers or to just even check if they may qualify for any of the available visas or permits based on their current situation/condition or upon entry.

The expenses involved in hiring an immigration lawyer and the fear of being scammed by others who are posing to be authorized in getting their visa or permit approved push many immigrants to rely solely on the Green Card Lottery Program. It’s free and instantly rewards the winner a green card. The pressing question: is it really the best option one should consider to stay legally in the U.S.?

What is EDVP or The Green Card Lottery Program?

Electronic Diversity Visa Program (EDVP) is a program run by the United States’ Bureau of Consular Affairs. It is an annual lottery event that occurs usually between October and November of every year. ANYONE can submit their entries to this lottery and people from around the world can join virtually. That’s correct – the lottery is not restricted to immigrants who are in the U.S.

However, just like any other lotteries, there are rules applicable to this program. In fact, there is a cap for the numbers of recipients who will be granted the precious green card each year.

If you get really really lucky, you might be one of the 50,000 random winners of the green card lottery. It does sound exciting, especially if one will see the amount of money that can be saved from winning a green card through the lottery instead of going through the usual immigration process.

The chances of winning the lottery may appear high since they offer 50,000 immigrant visas to random entries annually. But just like the usual money lottery we know, it’s a battle of luck and there is no absolute formula on how one can win the jackpot.

Added to this, millions of people join the EDVP or the Green Card Lottery Program. In 2021, it’s reported that over 11.8 million people submitted their entries with hopes to win the lottery program. Visualize this: 11.8 Million vs 50,000 “random” winners in 2021 alone – the numbers speak for itself and luck is truly going to be your best option to gain a green card through this process, which translates to very slim chances of winning.

Three Things Immigrants Must Know About the Green Card Lottery Program

It’s never wrong for undocumented immigrants to join the Green Card Lottery Program. It’s a legitimate program from the U.S. government. Plus, it’s free and very easy to do. These very reasons are what attract people to join this annual event. However, is it one’s best option?

Remember that the probability of winning any lottery is very small. If you are someone who wants to give a better life to your family and ultimately yourself, it’s always best to check your visa options with an immigration lawyer first. Here are the main reasons why:

  1. There’s no guarantee that you can receive a green card through this process

It’s a LOTTERY fueled purely by luck, unlike applying for a visa through the help of experts in immigration law, which will show you a better view if your case is hopeless or not. Millions of applicants and only 50,000 slots will be filled – this figure simply shows that your chances are very limited and you might be wasting precious time which could have been spent in having your immigration case submitted, filed, and approved.

  1. There is no absolute way to determine who will get a green card – it’s very random

Unlike having your visa processed by an immigration lawyer through a step-by-step process, joining the Green Card Lottery Program will never be able to give you assurance that you will get yours soon. There is no absolute way to determine how one secures a slot.

The qualifications and determining factors, and even the names of the people who select the winners, are unknown.

There’s no exact way to determine whether you have a high chance or low chance of getting one slot from the 50,000 visas they offer each year. Winning the lottery is more like wishful thinking compared to knowing the determining factors that can help you acquire a work permit, travel permit, or a visa that can give you all of these benefits- which is possible when consulting with an immigration lawyer or firm.

  1. NO ONE can guarantee that you can secure a green card through this process.

Others will always prey on those who are in need and are not knowledgeable about visa processes. Some people may go on and tell you that they can secure you a slot on the Green Card Lottery Program and you have to keep in mind that this is NOT TRUE.

People who are saying they are experts on immigration law yet are telling you that they can secure your chances of getting a green card through the lottery for a fee are fraudulent people.

Nobody can determine who will win and make the cut. There are no determining factors posted by the Bureau of Consular Affairs or even USCIS regarding the matter. Best is to never believe or even entertain people who are claiming to be experts in immigration law and that they can guarantee your win. Be vigilant and do not waste your hard-earned money on fraudsters like them.

What Immigrants Must Keep in Mind

There’s no harm in trying out your luck for the Green Card Lottery Program. However, this should not be your sole option or gateway to the life you truly deserve. At the end of the day, it is better to have your case assessed and determined by an immigration lawyer. Remember, many people will  try to lie their way to get your trust and make you believe that they are capable of helping you get your papers approved.

A consultation with an immigration lawyer will help you get a holistic view on your options of having a visa, travel permit, work permit, or all of these. They are experts in the field and they can determine your chances of getting approved for a visa rather than simply relying on random luck.

They will also be able to help you with other stuff such as acquiring an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) while waiting for your visa, a driver’s license, and other conditions that may be relevant to your other family members or needs.

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