Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery
The Department of State (“DOS”), together with the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), use a complex formula based on the number of persons from each foreign state who became lawful permanent residents during the most recent 5-year period (for which data is available). The number of diversity visas available is 55,000 each year, which is reduced by up to 5,000 by the number of grants of special cancellations under NACARA.
There are two criteria you must meet to apply for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.
First, you must be a native from a country with a low immigration rate to the U.S. For DV Lottery 2017, nationals from the following countries are ineligible: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland only), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland), and Vietnam. Natives from all other countries may register. Eligibility is determined by your country of birth (not country of citizenship or current residence). Also, a spouse who wishes to apply may be counted under the non-applicant spouse’s country of birth to qualify as long as the parties were married prior to submitting the lottery entry.
Second, you must either have a high school diploma (or its equivalent) or within five years of applying, have at least two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years’ training/ experience. Spouses and children, including those acquired after the DV entry, are eligible as long as the marriage took place prior to the applicant’s admission to the U.S. under the DV Program.
You can only file one petition. If more than one petition is filed, all petitions filed for that period will be voided. Selection does not guarantee a green card since there are more winners than available visa numbers. Beware of fraudulent winning notices.
Once selected, you need to determine where you are in the queue. Using the Visa Bulletin and your DV number, you can determine when you are eligible to apply to obtain your green card. Those who reside outside of the United States immigrate through consular processing. If you are living lawfully in the U.S., you can adjust status in the U.S. The adjustment of status process for diversity visa winners must be completed by September 30 of the fiscal year. Visas cannot be carried over to the next fiscal year, so it is critical to begin the process as soon as you are able to do so.
We recently helped a DV lottery winner who had a complicated immigration history. He entered the U.S. on a visitor visa but failed to extend/change his status. Consequently, he accrued more than 10 years of unlawful presence. He and his wife filed a marriage-based green card application, but after the couple divorced, the application was denied. The client visited several attorneys who told him he would have to depart the U.S., which he did not want to do because he would trigger the 10-year bar. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request and after we reviewed the response, we found that a Notice to Appear had been issued, which the client was unaware of. We conducted a thorough review of the documentation and used a carve-out in the law that allowed the client to obtain a green card without leaving the U.S. We filed the client’s green card application and attended his interview. After 21 years, the client received his green card.
Please give us a call to discuss your case. In-person consultations are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please call our office at 301.529.1912 or complete the form below. Please be sure to provide a timeline of events along with details of your entire immigration history./strong>