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Old 13-05-2019, 09:11 AM   #1227
BBCWatcher
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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About the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery

If you’re interested in emigrating to the United States for a spell (or more), read on.

Singaporeans are among the most privileged citizens in terms of their ability to enter the United States. The most popular way is via the H-1B1 visa program, also available to Chilean nationals. This program is virtually identical to the general H-1B program, but there’s a separate annual quota allocation. In practice (and unlike H-1B) the quota has never been fully consumed, so Singaporeans have never had trouble getting H-1B1 visas. These visas require employer sponsorship, and they are “non-immigrant” visas, meaning they do not confer the right to stay in the United States. They are analogous to Singapore’s Employment Passes for foreign workers. There are possible routes to permanent residence (a U.S. “green card”), but it’s perilous and certainly not guaranteed.

However, there’s another possible way into the United States, and it’s an immigrant visa: the annual Diversity Lottery. Singaporeans are welcome to enter the U.S. Diversity Lottery, although the definition of “Singaporean” is a little different. (The Diversity Lottery generally uses a birthplace standard.) There are 50,000 green cards awarded every year through this program and yes, that’s right, it’s a straight path to a green card (U.S. permanent residence). And Singaporeans have a pretty good chance of winning the lottery, statistically speaking. Maybe even a very good chance. The lottery formula tends to favor atypical immigration patterns, and countries that already send large numbers of immigrants to the U.S. are already barred from the Diversity Lottery. Congress set up the Diversity Lottery to make sure that there’s at least some broad, global opportunity for individuals from diverse backgrounds, countries, and cultures to come to the United States.

There’s no fee to enter the lottery and no obligation if you win a ticket. If you do win, and if you want to emigrate to the U.S., you should complete the process at least reasonably expeditiously and carefully. There will be standard visa fees and requirements, and yes, you can bring your spouse and minor dependents as long as they’re also eligible for visas (also with clean criminal records and properly vaccinated, as examples). The U.S. State Department knows that a certain number of winners won’t complete the process and won’t qualify, and the State Department tries to fill all 50,000 slots. In other words, there are more than 50,000 lottery “tickets” passed out. Once the 50,000th visa slot is filled, that’s that — it’s a strict quota. Anyway, you should enter if you have a serious intention to emigrate to the United States if you were to win, even if it is free to enter.

The next lottery (“DV-2021”) should open in early October, 2019. The only way to enter will be through the U.S. Department of State’s official Web site: https://dvlottery.state.gov. If it’s anything else, it’s a scam. Nobody has any “inside access” or otherwise can cheat or circumvent the rules. It’s called “DV-2021” because that’s the general, broad timeline when 2019 winners who complete their visa applications would enter the United States (in 2021).

If you’re married (same or opposite sex), both of you should enter the Diversity Visa to double your chances, assuming you’re both eligible to enter based on national origin. (Some countries of national origin are barred, the ones that are already well represented in U.S. immigration.) If you have a same sex partner but are not yet married, how about you get legally married? You can get legally married in many countries, including in the United States as foreign tourists. Yes, you can get married in Las Vegas with an Elvis impersonator as your officiating “minister,” if you wish.

Good luck, everyone.

Please note that I’m not necessarily recommending that you emigrate to the United States. I live in Singapore, and I like living in Singapore, as it happens. However, preferences and goals vary, and the U.S. Diversity Lottery is interesting and special.
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