Every year, in the course of my professional practice as an immigration lawyer, I meet or know of at least 2-3 people who win the Greencard by virtue of the annual “Diversity Visa”-Lottery. While this in itself may not be that unusual, I AM, however, astounded time and time again when I meet someone who either returned the Greencard after receiving it, or, in the alternative has no intention whatsoever to relocate to the United States.
On a near daily basis, I meet foreign nationals who would literally give ANYTHING to obtain a Greencard. These people will often spend years of their lives, thousands of dollars of their money, and many sleepless nights doing whatever possible in their power to get to that coveted lawful permanent resident card.
With this knowledge, I am completely dumb-founded when someone who actually won the Greencard-Lottery not only was notified as a “winner”, but also took the affirmative steps necessary to complete the residence process and take possession of the Greencard and then actually either voluntarily turn in the card, or never actually move to the U.S., because it does not fit into their life-plan.
I wonder why these types of individuals actually participate in the Lottery, when they know full-well, that participating in the lottery brings with it the chance of a “win”, and that they could likely receive 1 of an annually limited number of available Greencards… Why play this kind of lottery when you are not prepared for (or willing to accept) the consequences of a possible win?
People should approach the Greencard Lottery in the same way, as they otherwise would when they make an offer to purchase something. When the other side in an agreement accepts the offer, as it was made, then a binding legal agreement (i.e. “contract”) exists. Once this contract exists, there will be legal consequences, whether one follows through on the transaction or not.
While I often counsel eligible persons to participate in the annual Greencard Lottery, I also advise of the obligations that come with the participation in the event of a winning-notification. Persons contemplating participating in the lottery should not do so lightly and without sufficient deliberation. Keep in mind that when you play, you could potentially win. If you win, you should be able to follow through and make the required relocation to the United States. The Greencard requires by law that the possessor relocate his/her worldwide residence from abroad INTO the United States, and be physically present in the United States at least 6 months out of the year (some exceptions may apply).
If you have any specific questions or concerns about the Lottery, or the requirements of a lawful resident in the United States, please feel free to contact me.