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U.S. Green Card Lottery Sets Record For Entries

The United States launched the green card lottery in 1990 to promote diversity in the immigrant population. The program has grown each year since its inception. Green card lottery winners, which are limited to 50,000 each year, eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship.

The diversity visa program attracted a record number of entrants this year. 15 million people entered the lottery, nearly 25 percent more entries than last year. The enrollment period runs for one-month each year. This year entries reached the rate of 62,000 per hour at the end of the period, which closed November 3.

Lawmakers have introduced legislation in recent years to abolish the program. Critics of the green card diversity program contend it may pose security risks. Other critics feel the program is inadequate as it allows people with no ties to the U.S. to become residents more quickly than those sponsored by relatives or those that enter under employment based immigration visas.

Some critics of the program also say the lottery diverts scarce resources from processing more important visa categories.

The program does not limit the number of times a person enters the lottery. Although the State Department says only one entry is allowed per year. No single country can represent more than 7 percent of the total visas issued in a given year.

This year's entrants will have to wait until May to know if they are among the 100,000 that will undergo interviews, background checks and medical examinations under the program. Half of the 100,000 will eventually receive a green card from the lottery.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Green-Card Lottery Record," Miriam Jordan, 22 Nov 2010

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