Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Diversity Lottery

The United Stated Department of State sponsors a "diversity lottery" where it gives away US green cards to certain qualifying aliens in a random lottery process. It will OPEN applications for the 2012 lottery on October 5, 2010 and CLOSE on November 3, 2010.

What is this Diversity Lottery Program?
The program is explained on the State Department's website here. Basically, it is an invitation to aliens from countries that have low immigration rates to come to the US. It helps balance the diversity of foreigners present in the US and enriches the population with this diversity.

Who can apply?
Essentially, the lottery is open only to aliens from countries with relatively low immigration numbers into the US. For example, aliens from the Philippines and those born in mainland China do not qualify. This year's list of countries/citizens excluded from the lottery are BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.

If you are an alien from any country other than those excluded, you may be eligible to apply on-line for the green-card give-away.

You must also be
1)outside of the United States; or
2)present in the US and have entered lawfully and "been inspected" and be lawfully present; or
3) present in the US despite unlawful entry/no inspection if and only if eligible for 245 (i) protection [--an expired amnesty program: beneficiary of a Form I-130 immigrant visa petition ("Petition for Alien Relative") or Form I-140 immigrant visa petition ("Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker") that was filed with the INS on or before April 30, 2001, or the beneficiary of an application for labor certification filed with the Department of Labor on or before April 30, 2001]

What does it cost?
There is NO FEE!

Are there any other eligibility requirements?
There are other eligibility requirements:.

Education or work status
Alien applicantss must have either 1)a high-school diploma or 2) have recent "qualifying occupation" experience (2 years experience during the past 5 years). You can learn more about qualifying occupations on the State Department's website, but it's not all that simple. You have to look at both the "job zone" and the "specific vocational preference" and meet both levels of qualifying occupation requirements to take advantage of this alternative.

One and only one successful application
Alien applicants must list all family members and submit individual photos of each family member, even if the family member is a US citizen or permanent resident already.

You may submit only one completed application. A second application that is also proper in all regards would disqualify the applicant-both the first and subsequent applications would be withdrawn.

And post selection criteria
Even if you win, you may have to meet additional requirements (good character, etc.). Also, the State Department notifies more than 50,000 people to "apply" for the final phase because some don't make it through this process--so you could be notified that you are in the final selected group and still not win if the 50,000 green cards are issued before your number is up.

How do you apply?
The applicant must be submitted through an on-line process. This means the photos must be scanned to certain specifications, and all questions answered, etc. You can see the instructions online here.

What are the chances of winning?
According to "" the chances are about 1% that you'll get the notice and once you have that, 50% that you'll actually get a green card. In other words--very slim (about .5%)

How do you find out if you're a winner?
There is an on-line status checker. Notices will begin in May 2011. The actual green cards will be available starting in October 2011 through September 2012.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MLSC's Back To School Project

We held our annual Back-To-School Project this August and September 2010. This is a direct pass-through project where we collect money and school supplies from donors, primarily in the CNMI Bar Association, and then distribute everything in the form of school supplies to students in grades 1 through 12.

The good news for SY 2010-11 is that we collected $1190 in cash donations and approximately $915 in in-kind donations. (I say approximately because we estimate the value of the donations and don't have exact value for all items contributed.)

We distributed 77 book bags with supplies--binder, filler paper, folder, notebook, pencil case with pens, pencils, erasers and pencil sharpeners--and then depending on the grade, some additional components: the elementary add-ons (construction paper, glue, scissors, crayons, fancy pencils); the middle school add-ons (graph paper, compass, protracter, art eraser, scotch tape or index cards); the high school complement (white paper, art eraser, highlighter, white-out tape or fluid).

We also distributed all in-kind donations, so each book-bag recipient received a unique donation.

In addition to the 77 book bags with supplies, we gave out 24 small kits--containing 2 notebooks, a pack of 10 pencils and a box of crayons each. These kits were all identical (except for the colors of the notebooks) and were made possible by an in-kind donation after school started that helped us reach students on our list when we had run out of money and other supplies.

We were not very successful in reaching out to Tinian and Rota--distributing only 11 book bags with supplies to these islands' students, despite our efforts. We are happy that we did get something to each island, however.

We received less in overall cash and supplies this year than in 2009, perhaps reflecting the economic realities here; but interestingly enough, these donations came from more people than who donated in 2009--so generally the donations were smaller, but more people were reaching into their pockets to help our students.

And we really appreciate it.

There were many happy smiles on the recipients faces; and honesty, too. One recipient kept the school supplies that were needed for her children but said someone else had donated book bags to her, so she gave back the new ones we were going to give her back and then we gave them to two other kids who were not otherwise going to get backpacks this year.

All in all, this was another successful event. Thanks to everyone who helped.