When researching immigration to the United States and applying for the Green Card Lottery, you’ll be sure to run into many official words and phrases with which you may be unfamiliar. Have no fear, as the Global USA Green Card Organization has compiled key terms and concepts to help you better understand the process of legal immigration to the United States.


Alien= any individual who is not a citizen of the United States

American Dream= a term coined by writer/historian James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book, The Epic of America. Though it holds a different meaning for each individual, the American Dream generally consists of the ideals of freedom, democracy, upward mobility, and personal and professional prosperity.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)= a branch of the Department of Homeland Security that secures the safety and legality of both people and goods at US border crossings.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)= federal branch of the US government concerned with major safety and security initiatives, including enforcing immigration laws

Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, also known as the Green Card Lottery= an annual drawing of millions of international applicants vying for one of 55,000 green cards. Applicants must meet certain preliminary criteria, such as being a citizen of a country with current low rates of immigration to the US, as well as minimum educational and professional requirements. (To see if you qualify, take our quick quiz here.)

Form DS-260= Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application (available here); to be filled out after winning the Green Card Lottery, preceding the consular procedure.

green card= identification card confirming the permanent resident status of immigrants. A green card allows the holder to legally live and work in the United States. The physical document serves as an official proof of identity, as well as for work authorization. Green cards are typically valid for 10 years, and must be renewed in order to maintain permanent resident status.

Immigration Act of 1990= enacted the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program, as well as redefined limits to immigration to the United States

Kentucky Consular Center (KCC)= organization that processes Form DS-260 to confirm or deny visa eligibility

lawful permanent resident (LPR)= federally granted legal residential status of an immigrant. This designation provides immigrants with full immigration benefits, including the opportunity to live and work freely in the United States, as well as the possibility to later apply for citizenship.

naturalization= the process of changing your legal status from lawful permanent resident (LPR) to citizen

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)= the agency of the Department of Homeland Security that oversees legal immigration to the US, including the DV Lottery program


Are there any other words or phrases you need help decoding? The Global USA Green Card Organization’s customer service department would be happy to help you better understand the DV Lottery application and immigration terminology. Feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected]!

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