What are the alternatives to the green card

Green card for the USA - also possible without the lottery

Many Germans dream the American dream: studying, working or starting a new career in the USA - starting over in the New World. Thousands of Germans emigrate to the USA every year. How do you manage to get the coveted green card (officially: "United States Permanent Resident Card")? What options are there besides the raffle?

Everything is possible with the green card raffle, this idea is wrong, but it persists. I will introduce you to the Green Card Lottery and the other alternatives. Because there are not so few. However, people willing to emigrate are not given anything for free either in the state lottery or when emigrating on their own.

Numbers and backgrounds for the raffle for the green card

With a little luck, is it possible for everyone to "hit the jackpot"? Every year the US government gives away 55,000 GreenCards worldwide. You should know that there are more than 20 times as many participants. If you compare the candidates with the number of green cards, it becomes clear that the chances are very small. Often misconceptions and wishful thinking about the green card distort the view of the situation. Everyone can take part in the green card raffle ... but not everyone gets one.

  • Around 12 million people worldwide take part in the raffle (1,200 in Germany) - and 55,000 win.
  • The profit is modest: winners only get the right to apply for the green card = to submit an immigration application. And you save $ 300 on fees. But this does not mean that the entire application process will be free of charge for you.
  • You can also apply for the green card regardless of the lottery. The cost is then about $ 300 higher.
  • Anyone who took part in the lottery and was drawn will receive a notification in early summer of next year with the required applications and documents.

Only now is the actual immigration to the United States applied for. There is no pardon for mistakes, so accuracy is required when filling out the form.

Beware of rip-offs

It is your decision whether to do this alone or to get help. With professional support you are on the safe side. However, there is always a warning against rip-offs. (And there is more than enough - afterwards you are always smarter). So check carefully who you are confiding in. The Green Card Lottery does NOT override the usual criteria for immigrants!

Criteria for US immigrants

The US government requires immigrants to have a good education. That means, either 12 years (high school) or if the schooling was shorter, 2 years of professional experience in a training occupation is required. Expertise, professional experience and the applicant's financial security are taken into account. School-leaving certificates and job references are important as evidence. An extensive health check is also part of the check for those wishing to emigrate.

The rest of the process

After you have submitted your documents, proceed as follows.

  1. If your application is formally in order and you meet the content requirements, it will be sent to you again.
  2. After a few weeks you will get an appointment at the responsible US consulate.
  3. At the appointment you will be personally inspected and you have to pay the application fee.

The further steps of the application process will not be discussed here. Just this much: As soon as you have received the visa, you should move to the USA within 6 months. Deadline extensions may be possible.

Those who receive permanent residency via the green card have taken the second step towards naturalization in the United States. There are three steps in total on the way to US citizenship:

  1. Immigrant visa
  2. Permanent residency with green card
  3. US citizenship

Rights and obligations

In order to maintain their legal status, green card holders (permanent residents) must meet three main requirements:

  1. If you change your permanent address, you must notify the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of your change of address within 10 days.
  2. You should renew the green card before the printed expiry date expires (the visas are currently valid for 10 years). In principle, the legal status of permanent residency continues to exist, even if the card expires. But there can be complications that are preventable.
  3. You have to be present in the USA.

The last point should be briefly explained. Permanent residents who have been abroad for more than 6 months can be asked about the reasons for the long stay abroad when they re-enter and whether they want to continue to have their main residence in the USA. For stays abroad that last longer than a year, a re-entry permit must be applied for before departure. This is also possible and recommended for stays of 6 to 12 months.

Violations of the obligations of a green card holder can lead to the withdrawal of the green card. Or the US government does not withdraw the green card, but reserves the right to refuse or delay the application for citizenship (naturalization).

What is the Green Card Lottery anyway?

The USA are the country of immigration absolutely. As from some countries, such as B. China or the states of Central and South America have a lot more immigrants than from other countries, so the visa was changed to regulate as a lottery.

With the Diversity Visa Program - the official name of the Green Card raffle - the US government has been granting 55,000 permanent residence permits worldwide since the early 1990s. The winners are selected at random according to fixed country contingents. This is to ensure the diversity of the different immigrant groups.

Only a small proportion of immigrants get the green card through the green card lottery. Allocation by lot stems from the government's wish that more people immigrate from certain countries of origin who did not do so before. And that's why some countries of origin are excluded from which many immigrants come anyway, for example Great Britain. That is why the Green Card Lottery is officially called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program: the aim is to increase the diversity of immigrants.

What is a green card?

Greencard is the name for the immigrant visa to the United States. Strictly speaking, the word "green card" is only used in everyday language. The exact directory is "lawful permanent residence". But who knows this term as an uninitiated! The exact designation reveals what the colloquial language leaves in the dark: permanent residence allows unlimited residence and work permits in the USA. Open-ended does not mean irrevocable. In the event of misuse, the green card could be withdrawn from you.

The United States Permanent Resident Card (colloquially: Green Card) is a United States identification document. "The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will issue the document upon request to persons who are not yet citizens of the United States but who have settled in the United States with the intention of immigrating. Holders of the card are lawful permanent residents (LPR) or called permanent residents for short. The name Green Card is derived from the first ID cards, which had green writing and a greenish-colored photo. " (Wikipedia)

The Green Card differs from other visas in that it is not valid for a limited period of time, but entitles you to stay in the USA for an indefinite period and to take up work. Other visas are stuck or stamped into the passport - this is different with the green card. It is a separate ID; today it is in the form of a chip card. In 2010 there were 12.6 million green card holders in the US, around four percent of the total population.

Four ways to get the green card

  1. The safest way: Marriage to an American citizen. However, this path is only viable for very few.
  2. A American employer is ready to hire you.
  3. As Entrepreneur you also have a very good chance of getting a green card - provided you meet the requirements of the immigration authorities.
  4. The fourth option is the one that has been held annually for over 20 years lottery, in which immigrants from all over the world can win the coveted visa.

From the green card to American citizenship

Permanent residents who have had this status for at least 5 years, have spent at least 30 months in the United States in the last 5 years, and meet some other requirements can apply for US citizenship. For spouses of US citizens, the waiting period is only 3 years. Permanent residents who are underage and unmarried acquire US citizenship by law as soon as their parents (at least 1 parent) acquire US citizenship.

Numbers for the green card

The largest number of green cards have been issued to applicants from Mexico in recent years. In 2013 there were 135,028 cards. That doesn't have to be surprising. In some areas of the United States, Latinos are the largest population group. If applicants from Mexico now dominate immigration, this is largely due to family reunification, after some have lived and worked in the USA for some time. The following countries of origin are China (71,798 green cards), India (68,458), the Philippines (54,446), the Dominican Republic (41,311), Cuba (32,219), Vietnam (27,101), South Korea (23,166), Colombia (21,131), Haiti ( 20,351), Jamaica (19,400) and El Salvador (18,260). The European country with the most green card recipients was Great Britain.

In 2011, an estimated 180,000 of a total of 13,070,000 permanent residents were born in Germany.

History of the green card

It all began when the United States entered the war in 1940. A law was passed that made it mandatory for persons living in the United States not to be a US citizen to register. This was the Alien Registration Act to control the inland danger heightened under wartime conditions. At that time it was not a question of differentiating between legal and illegal immigrants (that came later).

After the end of the Second World War, the compulsory registration was retained and it became part of every regular immigration. Arriving foreigners were registered on arrival and were given the appropriate visa (called alien registration cards). Permanent residents received a small document on green paper - the first "Green Card".

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last update: 06/12/2017