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US diversity visa lottery not affected by government shutdown

The 2015 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, often called the DV lottery or the "green card lottery," is up and running at the Department of State. The reason the lottery isn't affected by the federal government shutdown is that many immigration activities of the U.S. government are funded through fees from applicants -- although there is no fee for the diversity lottery. So, while some parts of the State Department are subject to furloughs, the diversity lottery, or DV-2015, is moving forward as usual.

The annual lottery allows 50,000 eligible people from qualified countries to obtain lawful permanent residency in the U.S. Don't be confused by the terminology -- a "Permanent Residency Immigrant Visa" is another term for a green card. Qualified applicants must apply online at the State Department's Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery website before noon Eastern time on Saturday, Nov. 2. Then, a computer will randomly draw winning applicants' names.

One important thing to know is that winning the green card lottery does not automatically mean you will get a green card. More than 50,000 people are chosen because some of the winners turn out not to be qualified, and others decide not to pursue permanent residency after all. If you do win the visa lottery, you will still go through a final interview before you receive a green card.

In order to qualify for the lottery, you must meet two basic requirements. First, you must be a native of a qualifying country, which means one with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. There are some situations in which you could be considered a native of your parent or spouse's homeland, and some other rules that could apply. You can learn the specifics in materials provided on the application website.

The second requirement concerns education and work experience.  To qualify, you must either have completed the equivalent of high school or have at least two years' experience working at a job that requires at least two years of training. Again, more information about specifics is available from the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery website.

The green card lottery is only one option for obtaining lawful permanent residency in the U.S. If you are interested in applying, that deadline again is Saturday, Nov. 2, at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time.

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