Cambodians Registering in Annual Lottery for US Citizenship

Registration for the chance of winning a US permanent residency visa got started worldwide on Wednesday, and Buddhist monk Kim Seng was ready to enter for the fifth time.

“Some of my friends who played the lottery went to live in the States,” said Kim Seng of Phnom Penh. “I have tried the [annual] lottery to live in the US since 2000…. I am not lucky, but I will try again.”

The 39-year-old monk maintains that he was notified that he had won the US Diversity Visa Lottery in 2004, but that he was put on a waiting list for a permanent visa, commonly known as the “green card.”

As Kim Seng’s case shows, winning one of the 50,000 winning tickets in the lottery—created in 1990 to give individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the US the chance to gain permanent resident status—does not necessarily guarantee a green card.

Rather, it offers a place in the waiting queue.

If designated lottery winners’ numbers are not reached in the visa backlog before the end of the fiscal year in which they applied, they are not is­sued a green card and must try their luck again.

Based on pure chance, the lottery offers people from roughly 300 nations the shot at green cards, which allows immigrants to live and work legally in the US.

A total of 164 Cambodians won in the 2005 visa lottery, according to a US State De­part­ment report.

In order to apply, all that is required for people from eligible countries such as Cambodia is a high school degree or two years of equivalent work experience.

Doung Vandina, who is with the Phnom Penh business Dina Services, said he helped more than 100 people last year correctly fill out their lottery applications, which can be disqualified in case of error, for a $3 fee.

But be warned: There are also scam operations promising US green cards or a better shot in the lottery in exchange for cash.

The only site where people can submit their lottery applications for the random drawing is http://www.dvlot­tery.state.gov, according to the US government.

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