The Green Card Lottery


Each year the United States gives over one million green cards to immigrants. A green card is an official document that shows that a person is a legal American immigrant. Green card holders are allowed to live and work in the United States.
Many groups of people get green cards: foreigners who work in the United States or have a family there, as well as asylum seekers and refugees. Having a green card does not mean a person is an American citizen, but they can stay and work in the US indefinitely.

Since 1990 50000 green cards have been given to foreigners through a lottery organized by the US government. Millions of people all over the world apply for one, so the chances of getting a green card are very small. Only countries from which few people come to the US are allowed to participate in the lottery. Countries with a high rate of immigration to the US, like Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil or Vietnam are excluded from the program.

According to the American government, foreigners who apply for a green card must fulfil certain requirements. They must have at least 12 years of education or they must qualify by having worked in a job that requires at least two years of training. Being able to speak English is not a qualification.

The winners of the lottery are allowed to bring their wives or husbands and their children under 21 to the United States too. However, they must show officials that they have enough money to live on their own and do not need state help. The government does not help such people find a place to live or a job either.


American authorities reject people who are mentally retarded or have a criminal record. They also take a closer look at foreigners who come from countries in which terror groups operate.




Related Topics



  • according to =  as said by …
  • apply = ask for, want to have
  • asylum seeker = someone who leaves their own country because of war or political reasons and asks the government of another country if they can stay there
  • authorities = the people or organization in charge of something
  • certain = special
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • criminal record = a document kept by the police that shows you have done something wrong in the past
  • exclude = do not take part in
  • foreigner = a person from another country
  • fulfil = meet, have
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • high rate = very many; a high number
  • however = but
  • immigrant = a person who comes to a country to live or work there
  • indefinitely = forever
  • legal = allowed by law
  • live on your own = you do not need money from other people or the state
  • lottery = a system of choosing a person  by chance
  • mentally retarded = person whose brain is not well developed and is often slow in thinking
  • official = a person who has a high position in a government organization
  • official = allowed by the government
  • operate = to be active
  • participate = take part in
  • refugee = someone who has to leave their country because of a war, religious reasons or natural disaster
  • reject = do not allow; to say no
  • require = need
  • requirement = something you need or have to have