There are many ways to legally immigrate to the United States, but only one of them depends completely on luck: the congressionally mandated visa lottery, which offers 50,000 green cards to people from certain countries.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is open to countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, such as Malaysia, Belarus, and Algeria. In order to diversify the immigrant population of the U.S., participation is limited to countries with less than 50,000 new immigrants to the United States per year.
Citizens from countries with already high rates of immigration such as Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom and China are not eligible to apply. You can learn more about which countries qualify from the State Department’s Diversity Visa page.
How to Participate in the Program
Registration for the 2013 visa lottery will be open from October 4 to November 5, 2011. Participation is only available through the State Department’s website www.dvlottery.state.gov.
A few key facts about the process:
There is no fee to apply
Only one application is allowed per person (if you apply more than once you will be disqualified)
You will be asked to provide photos with specific requirements as well as personal information such as your name, and place and date of birth. If you are married, you’ll also need to provide information about your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21
Winners will be selected randomly by computer
You need to have at least a high school education or its equivalent; or have worked two of the last five years in a job that required at least two years of training
What to Do after Enrolling
Once you have registered, make sure to print the confirmation page and store it in a safe place. You will need this information later to check your status. The Department of State will notify the winners directly. Everyone will be able to check their status starting May 1, 2012 on the Department of State website.
People who were not chosen can participate in the program the following year and as long as the program is available.
How to Avoid Being Disqualified
To avoid being disqualified be sure to follow all of the instructions outlined in the entry form.
Provide all of the information that is asked. Omitting certain information could lead to future complications. For example, if you don’t claim to have children and are selected for a green card, it will be impossible to immigrate any children you may have.
Common mistakes include identifying yourself as a citizen of the wrong country or filling out more than one entry. Be sure to keep record of your confirmation number, which is given to you when you enroll. People who lose this number will not be able to check their status.
How to Avoid Fraud
The Department of State has issued several warnings about fraudulent websites that pretend to be government sites. These portals falsely promise to improve your chances of being selected.
Some websites even use official looking seals and flags to make them look legitimate, and many also charge for their services. These things should be warning signs: participation in the Diversity Visa Lottery is free and the Department of State’s Diversity Visa lottery website is the only place where you can fill out an entry form.
Refunds Available for Reebok EasyTone or RunTone Shoes or Apparel
From the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, charged Reebok with making claims about EasyTone and RunTone shoes that the company couldn’t support. According to the FTC, Reebok claimed that using these products would strengthen and tone leg and butt muscles.
To settle the case, Reebok has agreed to pay $25 million for refunds to people who bought Reebok toning shoes or apparel.
Learn more about the refunds, how to apply, and how to avoid misleading marketing claims at ftc.gov/reebok.
How To Avoid Improper Acetaminophen Doses for Kids
Acetaminophen is a medicine commonly used to reduce fever and relieve pain. While generally considered safe and effective if you follow the package directions, giving a child even a little more than directed can cause nausea and vomiting or lead to liver failure.
Confusion about dosing is partly caused by the availability of different formulas, strengths, and dosage instructions for children of different ages.
Use these tips from the FDA to safely give acetaminophen to your children:
Never give your child more than one medicine containing acetaminophen at a time.
Choose the right medicine based on your child’s weight and age. If a dose for your child’s weight or age is not listed on the label or you can’t tell how much to give, ask your pharmacist or doctor what to do.
Never give more of an acetaminophen-containing medicine than directed. If the medicine doesn’t help your child feel better, talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
If the medicine is a liquid, use the measuring tool that comes with the medicine—not a kitchen spoon.
Keep a daily record of the medicines you give to your child. Share this information with anyone who is helping care for your child.
If your child swallows too much acetaminophen, get medical help right away, even if your child doesn’t feel sick. For immediate help, call the 24-hour Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222, or call 911.
Sign up to receive alerts when water in rivers or streams near you is rising to dangerous levels.
From the U.S. Geological Survey:
To sign up go to WaterAlert and select a specific site. Then select the preferred delivery method (email or text), whether you want hourly or daily notifications about river data, and the specific water levels at which you want to be notified.
FDA Proposes New Gluten-Free Food Labeling Standards
Gluten-free foods have become very popular in supermarkets with $2.6 billion in sales - a 30 percent increase over the last five years.
Gluten, a protein naturally present in wheat, rye and barley, causes allergic reaction and intestinal damage in the approximately 3 million Americans who suffer from celiac disease. The only way to manage the disease is to eat foods free from gluten.
In order to ensure that products labeled as gluten free actually are free from gluten, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is developing regulations for food products and dietary supplements labeled as such.
The FDA is currently accepting comments on the standards they are proposing for gluten-free food labels, which are expected to be in place in early 2012.
Learn about and try new recipes or find healthier versions of some of your favorites in the recipe databases from the USDA’s National Agriculture Library.
The recipe finder database lets you explore new and traditional recipes. You can give feedback, rate the recipes on a 1-5 scale, and submit your own recipes to be included in the database.
If you’re looking for vegetarian options, the fruits and veggies database has over 1000 recipes.
The USDA offers other databases based around certain food groups such as dry bean recipes or specific spices. You can also find guides to fit good nutrition into a busy life and tips for modifying your favorite dishes to make them more healthy.
It can be hard to identify a pill if you’ve lost the container.
Pillbox, from the National Library of Medicine, can help you quickly and easily identify unknown pills. You can search by shape, color, size, and more. Once you’ve identified the pill, you can also find drug information and labels.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 -14. This Saturday, you can get a free car seat inspection and hands-on advice about car seat safety at National Seat Check events nationwide.
To help your child stay safe on the road:
Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
Register your car seat with the manufacturer to ensure you are alerted in case of safety alerts or recalls.
Find Out How You Can Participate In National Wellness Week
By Wilma Townsend, Public Healthy Analyst, Center for Mental Health Services
As part of National Recovery Month, National Wellness Week, which runs from September 19-25, highlights ways to live a longer, healthier life if you or someone you know is in recovery from a mental or substance use disorder. People with untreated mental and substance use disorders often die decades earlier than those in the general population.
According to Million Hearts—a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years—heart disease causes one in every three deaths in the United States. Overall, Americans suffer more than two million heart attacks and strokes every year. People living with untreated mental and substance use disorders are at even greater risk than the general population of developing cardiovascular disease. The goals of the Million Hearts initiative are consistent with National Wellness Week’s focus on increasing years of life for people with mental and substance use disorders.
During National Wellness Week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will partner with the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health to encourage individuals to improve one physical health behavior, while exploring their talents, skills, interests, social connections, and environment. Hundreds of consumer/peer-run, faith- based, and other community organizations, as well as behavioral health and primary care providers, will host events nationwide in support of National Wellness Week and to promote the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, which are:
Social – Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
Environmental – Promoting good health by occupying pleasant, safe, and stimulating environments that support well-being
Physical – Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, nutrition, and sleep while discouraging the use of tobacco, drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption
Emotional – Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships Spiritual – Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life
Occupational – Gaining personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
Intellectual – Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
Financial – Feeling satisfied with current and future financial situations
On Friday, thousands of people across the country will put on their dancing shoes for a “Line Dance for Wellness.” Line dancing spans generations and cultures, while building community connections. It is an ideal example of how to incorporate both the physical and social dimension of wellness by bringing people together for fun and a bit of exercise.
Create a Video That Explains Government Services for a Chance to Win $1,000
If you create a video that helps people understand how to get the government benefits and services they need, you could win $1,000 and have your video seen by millions. We provide answers to the public’s most common questions, at Answers.USA.gov, but we need your help to create how-to videos that explain the process.
We are looking for videos that answer these common questions:
How do I check the status of my tax refund?
How can I apply for a government grant or loan?
How can I find a job?
How do I get a Social Security card?
How can I change my address with various government agencies when I move?
You can find the rules and more information about how to enter the contest at faq.challenge.gov. We are accepting entries until October 28, 2011.
Recognize Warning Signs to Prevent Gynecologic Cancers
From the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Gynecologic cancers start in a woman’s reproductive organs. The five main types of gynecologic cancer are cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancer.
Each gynecologic cancer has different symptoms, risk factors, and prevention strategies. All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, and risk increases with age. When gynecologic cancers are found early, treatment is most effective.
Pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. If you notice any unexplained symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.
Prevention and Screening
Some gynecologic cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. A vaccine protects against the HPV types that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. It’s recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls.
Of all the gynecologic cancers, only cervical cancer has a screening test—the Pap test—that can find this cancer early. It is especially important to recognize warning signs, and learn if there are things you can do to reduce your risk. If you have a low income or don’t have health insurance, you may qualify for a free or low-cost Pap test through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
Volunteer to Clean Up the World's Oceans, Coasts, and Watersheds
The International Coastal Cleanup will take place this Saturday. The cleanup is an annual event, sponsored in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, that includes over 100 countries and territories bordering every major body of water on Earth. It is the world’s largest volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment.
Last year, more than 8 million pounds of debris were removed from coastal, shoreline, and underwater sites around the world as part of the cleanup. Nearly 80 percent of the collected debris was considered disposable trash like plastic bags, bottle caps and soda bottles.
Hispanic Heritage Month takes place every year between September 15 and October 15. Although it is set aside for the nation to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans, the nationwide festivities are really about celebrating who we are as a country.
With its diverse food, music and language, the Hispanic culture is an integral part of the social and cultural fabric of the United States.
Below you’ll find some interesting facts about the Hispanic community, which continues to grow in both numbers and contributions to the social, economic and cultural life in the United States.
Population and language
Key Facts: Hispanics are the largest minority group in the country with more than 50.5 million people, or 16.3 percent of the population. 35 million people speak Spanish at home and more than half of those say they speak English “very well,” according to the Census Bureau.
Did you know?: The Federal Government launched the Spanish-language portal GobiernoUSA.gov in 2003 to provide meaningful and useful information for people with limited English proficiency. It’s the sister site of USA.gov. Both portals centralize information on federal programs and services.
Key Facts: Several Hispanic last names make the list of the top 15 most common last names in the United States. The most popular Hispanic last name was Garcia, in eighth place, according to the 2000 Census. Rodríguez, Martínez and Hernández took the ninth, 11th and 15th places, respectively.
Did you know?: You must let the Social Security Administration know if you change your name. Otherwise the agency will not properly record your earnings, which might affect your Social Security benefits.
Key Facts: There are currently more than 1.33 million Hispanics serving in the nation’s Armed Forces. Additionally, there are about 1.1 million Hispanics 18 years or older who are veterans of the Armed Forces.
Did you know?: Almost all males who live in the United States and are between the ages of 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service, even those who lack proper immigration documents. This is required so that the country knows who it can enlist in case of a national emergency. Individuals who don’t register could lose government benefits or even be denied a job.
Key Facts: Hispanics are businesspeople. The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States grew by 43.7% from 2002 to 2007, according to the latest census figures. The rate of growth was double that of the rest of the population.
Did you know?: The Small Business Administration offers business training as well as a wide range of financing programs to help all small businesses. The agency also has programs designed to help minority businesses, including those owned by Hispanics and women.
Key Facts: At the time of the last Census, 63% percent of Hispanics 25 and older had at least a high school education. Also, 14% of Hispanics 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree.
Did you know?: The federal government offers financial assistance such as loans and scholarships to people who want to go to college. Help is provided through Federal Student Aid, an office of the Department of Education.
Saturday is the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America.
On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the document. All through the summer, the delegates debated and redrafted the articles of the new Constitution. At issue was how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives each state could have in Congress, and how these representatives should be elected.
By Navdeep Aujla, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs
Winter travelers, spring break planners, day trippers to Toronto, and even those planning on attending the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, crack open your passport book for the third annual “Passport Day in the USA” on Saturday, September 17. On Passport Day you can travel to the nearest passport agency or acceptance facility and apply right away.
Although U.S. passport books and passport cards for adults are valid for 10 years, check the expiration date. Some countries require your passport to be valid for up to six months beyond the date of your stay.
Without the proper validity, you may not be able to board the plane or could even risk being denied entry into the country. To avoid any last minute headaches, confirm that the kids are also ready to go. Passports for children under the age of sixteen expire after five years.
Passport Day in the USA makes it easy to apply for a passport. No appointment is necessary, and both routine and expedited processing services will be available. Visit travel.state.gov to find an agency or participating passport acceptance facility near you, or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778 or TDD/TTY at 1-888-874-7793.
Preparing for college can be stressful, but there are lots of resources from both federal and state governments that can help you decide if college is right for you, and if so, how to finance your education.
College.gov shows you how to avoid scams targeted at college students as you learn the best ways to fund your education. You can also find the best college to fit your goals, find tips for preparing to take the ACT and SAT exams and college prep advice based on your current year in high school.
Federal Student Aid
Three main types of financial aid are available – grants, work-study programs and federal loans. The Department of Education offers tips on preparing for college, setting money aside in advance and repaying loans once you’re out of school.
529 plans are qualified tuition plans to help you pay ahead of time for a college education. With 529 plans, you have two options – the prepaid tuition plan or college savings plan. The prepaid tuition plan locks in your tuition rate before you attend college but only covers tuition and fees. The college savings plan doesn’t have a locked in rate, but covers tuition, room and board, fees and books.
Other State Resources
Many states offer their own scholarships and grants. Your college’s financial aid office is the best source of information about these state programs. The Department of Education also provides a list of state agencies that can help with financial aid.
Hospital Patients Can Now Choose Their Own Visitors
Patients in Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals now have the right to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay, regardless of whether or not the visitors are family members.
According to new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hospitals can’t discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Patients will also be allowed to name a person of their choice, including a same-sex partner, to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are medically unable to do so.
The new guidance updates the Conditions of Participation, which are standards that apply to all Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals, critical access hospitals, and patients in those hospitals even if they aren’t on Medicaid or Medicare.
Hospitals will need to have written policies that explain visitation rights, as well as clear guidance on when hospitals may restrict access based on reasonable clinical needs.
You can buy new, seized, and surplus merchandise and real estate from the government. Some items are sold online by auction or fixed price sales. Others are available by public auction, sealed bid, or contract with a Realtor.
Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, PA. Please observe a moment of silence on September 11 at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the victims.
The anniversary is a day to remember those we lost, and to stand with their families and loved ones. It’s a time to honor all victims of terrorism, including those who have been targeted by al Qaeda and other groups around the globe.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, many Americans were compelled to serve their fellow citizens and communities. As a tribute to that spirit, this Sunday will be the third official National Day of Service and Remembrance. This year, more than 1 million Americans are expected to serve in their communities. Service projects range from food drives and home repairs to neighborhood cleanups and disaster preparation activities. You can find volunteer opportunities in your town at Serve.gov.