2014 Diversity Lottery Program from Oct 2, 2012

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Diversity Visa (DV) “Green Card” Lottery registration period for fiscal year 2014 (FY14) will begin on October 2, 2012. There are 50,000 immigrant visa numbers available under the FY14 lottery program. This program is available for individuals from specified qualifying countries. Country qualification is limited to countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Deadline to Submit Online Registration is November 3, 2012

Potential candidates must submit their entries using the DOS online system by noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on November 3, 2012 to have a chance for participation. All lottery entries must use the online system. Thus, it is strongly recommended that applicants apply prior to the final week, as heavy demand can create problems with the website.

Follow Specific DV Instructions

Potential applicants should review the instructions very carefully. The rules allow for only one application per person. Individuals who try to submit multiple entries will have all of their entries disqualified. The instructions are available on the DOS WebSite. Potential applicants should particularly note the photograph requirements detailed in the instructions. Entries will be disqualified if they do not include all the required photographs.

Eligible Countries Listed on WebSite

The lottery is not available to natives of specified countries with high rates of U.S. immigration. A list of eligible countries can be found in the instructions. It should be noted that natives of Guatemala are eligible in FY14. There are limited exceptions that allow lottery qualification for individuals who were born in countries ineligible for the lottery. These exceptions are explained in the instructions.

Lottery Cycle: Apply in FY2013 for Eligibility in FY2014

The DV lottery cycle can be a bit confusing. While fiscal year 2013 (FY13) starts on October 1, 2012, applicants who submit entries between October 2 and November 3, 2012 are actually applying for the FY14 lottery. This is because successful lottery applicants “win” the opportunity to apply for their green cards during FY14. The lottery process involves a number of steps; thus, applications submitted at the start of FY13, if selected, make the applicants potentially eligible for green cards during FY14.

Online Status Check from May 2013

The lottery process begins with the submission of entry applications by potentially eligible individuals. As explained, this is a one-month process, starting at the beginning of FY13. Once this is completed, the DOS selects the winning applicants at random. The instructions indicate that applicants will be able to check the status of their entries online as of May 1, 2013. This is the only method available for determining whether an application is selected. Thus, it is extremely important to retain the confirmation number issued to each applicant.

Winning is Only the Beginning

Not all individuals selected as DV lottery “winners” ultimately become permanent residents through the lottery. Applicants do not win green cards; they win the ability to apply for the green card. The DV14 lottery makes 50,000 immigrant visas available; thus, 50,000 people can become permanent residents under this program in FY14. However, the DOS selects far more than 50,000 winners from the initial applicant pool. The DOS wants to make sure that all 50,000 visa numbers are utilized in FY14. They therefore select far more winners to enable finding 50,000 individuals who will pursue and qualify for permanent residence via the FY14 lottery.

Instructions After DV Selection: AOS or CP

The selected individuals are given detailed instructions regarding proceeding with the actual green card application. Individuals who are outside of the United States must follow the procedure for applying for an immigrant visa at the appropriate U.S. consulate. Individuals who are in the U.S. have the option to either apply for an immigrant visa abroad or file for adjustment of status (AOS) to permanent residence within the United States.

In addition to the general lottery requirements, applicants must meet procedural requirements for either adjustment of status or consular processing (CP). This generally depends upon their personal and immigration histories, as well as their ability to obtain the required documentation within a limited period of time. It is generally best to seek legal advice regarding procedures and requirements, to avoid delays and problems in the case.

Fraud Warnings and Other Complexities

The DOS WebSite carries a fraud warning for potential lottery applicants. The lottery historically has been abused by individuals trying to scam immigrants in a variety of ways. The lottery is a genuine government program that provides permanent immigration benefits to lucky individuals each year. It is simply necessary to be wary of communications received regarding the lottery as well as offers to help increase the chances of a successful lottery entry. Applicants selected under the lottery program receive no letters – neither hard copy nor eMail. The lottery has shifted to a purely online system. There is no fee for entering the lottery. Applicants should be suspicious of all “dear applicant” types of communication that ask for information or money.

Consider Other Options for U.S. Immigration

We remind MurthyDotCom readers that the lottery is a random, long-shot option. If one is eligible for entry, it generally is worth trying to win the DV lottery. No one should assume that s/he has a particular likelihood of selection in the lottery. Even those selected face other hurdles, so it is important not to depend upon the lottery and presume one will have success in receiving a green card in this manner. It is necessary to continue pursuing other appropriate immigration options, even while applying for the lottery.

Using a Lawyer for the AOS Application or CP

Most individuals submit the initial lottery entry without the help of an immigration lawyer. If selected, winners often seek qualified legal assistance to prepare, file, and represent them in their immigrant visa or adjustment-of-status cases. This can be important, as lottery cases have strict timeframes with little room to accommodate delays. We at the Murthy Law Firm have helped lottery winners reach their goals of becoming permanent residents each lottery year. We look forward to helping some lucky applicants in FY14, as well.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.