U.S. immigration may abandon diversity visa lottery program

British Columbia residents who have been dreaming of becoming a U.S. citizen may have doubts after recent events. Many changes have been made to U.S. immigration laws, and more are in the pipeline. After it was discovered that a recent terror attack in the United States was committed by an individual who came to the United States through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, U.S. authorities are calling for that program to be suspended.

The Diversity Visa Lottery Program provides for people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States to become U.S. residents. The process involves a lottery that randomly picks a limited number of individuals -- regardless of their skills or any other qualifying attributes -- who are then invited to become U.S. citizens. However, further concern exists over the current policy of family reunification that is tied to the lottery visas.

The family reunification program allows those who have been awarded green cards and have become permanent residents the opportunity to bring immediate relatives to also live in the United States. This includes spouses, parents and children under the age of 21. U.S. authorities are calling for the lottery program to be suspended, and a merit-based system to be implemented in its place. This would be similar to the immigration system in Canada by which potential immigrants are evaluated and awarded points for attributes such as their skills, the languages they speak, education levels and more.

While there might not be many people originating from British Columbia who became U.S. residents through the lottery program, some may consider joining relatives who are legal permanent residents of the United States. It might be wise to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in all matters related to U.S. immigration to avoid confusion and possible disappointment. He or she could explain the latest changes to immigration laws and assist with visa applications and other legalities.

Source: CBC News World, "How do the Canadian and American immigration systems stack up?", Nov. 1, 2017

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