Tens of thousands of people throughout the world will pursue their American dreams this month, now that the State Department has opened the annual green card lottery, also known as the diversity lottery.
The State Department said Tuesday that it was opening the visa lottery, making 50,000 visas available for fiscal 2020 by random drawing.
The visas are made available under the Diversity Immigrant Visa program to people who were born in one of six geographical regions. Recipients of the visas will later be chosen randomly.
Online registration for the 2020 lottery began Tuesday and ends Nov. 6. No individual country can get more than 7 percent of the visas. The State Department has published an online list of countries and regions where natives are eligible. Also online are instructions to apply for a visa and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) to begin the actual application process.
The program was established 30 years ago to increase the diversity of immigrants to the United States. Applicants must be those who do not have family or an employer to help them and those who are not refugees. A high school diploma and at least two years of work experience are required.
President Donald Trump called for the elimination of the program after a man from the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan who had gained entrance to the United States through the green card lottery killed eight people in New York in October 2017. He later asked Congress to eliminate the lottery program and replace it with a "more merit-based system."
"I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program, diversity. Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It is not nice. It is not good," he said.
Despite his requests, the Senate defeated several immigration bills in the spring, including several that included proposals supported by Trump. In late June, the House of Representatives also failed to approve major immigration legislation, following weeks of debate and mixed messages from the president.