16 December 2005

Bill Passes in US House of Representatives to Eliminate Greencard Lottery

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The House of Representatives passed a bill that contains an amendment to eliminate the diversity visa lottery.

The diversity visa lottery program provides for 50,000 permanent (aka "greencard") visas each year for nationals of countries with low US immigration rates. If chosen, applicants are eligible for visas if they meet the minimal education or work experience requirements.

Most other immigrant visa categories require that applicants have an immediate US citizen or permanent resident relative or a US employer sponsor them for a visa.

The bill, H.R. 4437, entitled Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration & Control was passed by the House of Representatives before the holiday break. Many of the bill's provisions include sections to better protect American borders but also contains provisions to criminalize those who commit minor immigration violations and to eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery which some believe was a way for terrorists to gain entry into the US.

H.R. 4437 will criminalize immigrants who commit minor immigration violations. This will include Lawful Permanent Residents who fail to report a change of address within 10 days of moving to the Department of Homeland Security and foreign students who fall below a full-time course load.

Under current law, an immigration violation is considered a civil violation. If passed by the Senate, individuals who commit any immigration violation, no matter how minor, will become "aggravated felons" and thus subject to mandatory detention and virtually no relief from deportation.


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