About a thousand Armenian nationals have received U.S. permanent resident visas this year after winning an annual lottery administered by the State Department, a U.S. diplomat said on Thursday.
The lotteries are held every year for foreign citizens around the world under the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program that was introduced by the U.S. Congress in 1990.
Their winners get a strong chance of qualifying for a “green card” allowing them to live and work in the United States. The residency permits are conditional on their successful interviews with U.S. consular officials.
“In [the lottery for] 2011 it was about 1,200, for 2012 the numbers look like about 1,000 people,” Robert Farquhar, the U.S. consul in Yerevan, said, referring to the number of Armenians to successfully participated in the last two green card draws.
Tens of thousands of Armenians have already immigrated to the U.S. since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some did so after winning such lotteries.
Under the program, up to 55,000 “diversity visas” can be issued each year to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. “A country that sends more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over a five-year period is not eligible,” Farquhar explained at a news conference.
The State Department announced the opening of the registration period for the next computer-generated draw on October 4. It will accept electronic applications until November 5.