A group of eight senators, four Democrats and four Republicans have submitted a draft of the new immigration reform act.
It is more than 800 pages long and contains proposals for reforms in almost every area in the immigration policy of the US.
The basic elements of the bill were expected but there have been one or two surprises. One change that commentators had not expected was the abolition of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or ‘Green Card Lottery’.
The lottery was held for the first time in 1995 and it gave chance to citizens that come from countries that historically have low rates of immigration to the US.
Green Cards grant permanent resident rights to their holders and are the first step towards American citizenship.
Around 55 000 Green cards are available each year but if the new proposal becomes law the 2012 lottery will be the last one.
Those who entered the DV-2014 can check whether they were successful from May 1st 2013 on the lottery website.
If they were selected, they will then have to prove that there is no reason that they are barred from receiving a green card (such as a serious criminal conviction) and pay their fees in the usual way. Their green cards will not be issued until the 2014 fiscal year.
The new act may not necessarily be the end of the green card lottery though. In order to pass the proposal needs to be approved by both houses of the US congress – the senate and the house of the representatives.
While the Senate is controlled by the republicans who support the proposal, the house of the representatives is controlled by the democrats.
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