bigstock-Citizenship-documents-43205116Every year, the United States government authorizes 55,000 green cards to be awarded in a lottery. Once awarded, winners of the green card lottery have the chance to live and work in the US so long as they meet the requirements and conditions of the green card program.

Strict Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the green card lottery program, foreign citizens must meet certain education and work requirements. The general requirements are that the foreign citizen have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have two years of work experience within the last five years. Further, the green card lottery is designed for foreign citizens who are from countries that are underrepresented in the United States – this is why the official name of the green card lottery is the “Diversity Visa Program”.

Beware of Scammers

One disappointing aspect of the green card lottery program is the amount of scammers and con artists taking advantage of prospective immigrants who are trying to start a life in the United States. Two of the most common scams involve tricking foreign citizens into paying big bucks for the chance to play the green card lottery (which they lose), or posing as a representative from the U.S. government by phone or email to elicit personal financial information from foreign citizens who have already applied for the program.

The best way to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of a scam is to work with an established and experienced immigration attorney. Immigration attorneys not only have the experience necessary to offer legitimate assistance to foreign citizens interested in playing the green card lottery, but they also have credentials that can be verified through the state to ensure that their services are legitimate.

Benefits to Working with an Attorney

Along with safeguarding against the risk of a scam or con, working with an attorney is a great way for foreign citizens to ensure that they apply properly and promptly through the green card lottery program. The attorney can review a client’s case to determine if the person is eligible to play the lottery and, if so, can help the individual apply for his or her chance to play.

If they were to apply for the green card lottery on their own, foreign citizens may become confused and frustrated by the process, but this is to be expected. Immigration forms and application procedures can be very confusing to the foreign citizen who has little to no knowledge of the green card lottery program or U.S. immigration policies.

Make no mistake about it, foreign citizens are allowed to apply to play the green card lottery on their own, but this is an option which most immigration attorneys will recommend not be exercised. Immigration attorneys know the green card lottery program inside and out and can make sure that foreign citizens interested in playing fill out their applications fully and correctly. Believe it or not, even a simple typo on an application for the green card lottery can cause a foreign citizen to lose his or her chance to play and cause the foreign citizen to have to wait until next year to apply.