Commencement of Diversity Lottery Registration for FY1530 Sep 2013
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Diversity Visa (DV) “Green Card” Lottery registration period for fiscal year 2015 (FY15) runs from October 1, 2013 through November 2, 2013. The DV lottery program allots up to 50,000 immigrant visa numbers annually to applicants who meet certain eligibility requirements.
To qualify for the DV lottery, applicants must meet two simple, but rigid, criteria. First, subject to limited exceptions, applicants must have been born in specified countries with historically low rates of U.S. immigration. A list of eligible countries, along with an explanation of the limited exceptions allowing individuals who were not born in lottery-eligible countries to qualify for the program, can be found in the DV lottery instructions. It should be noted that Nigeria is no longer included as a qualifying DV lottery country, as of FY15.
Each applicant must also meet an education or work experience requirement for the DV program. The applicant must either have a high school education (or its equivalent), or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience. More information about the work experience requirement can be found in the FAQ section of the DV lottery instructions.
Instructions for Applying to the DV Lottery Program
Registration takes place exclusively online at www.dvlottery.state.gov. It is important to review the DV lottery instructions carefully. All of the information requested, including information on spouses and children, as well as the requisite photographs, must be properly and timely submitted, or else the application will be disqualified from the lottery. After submission of a complete entry, the applicant will be taken to a confirmation page showing his/her name and a unique confirmation number. This confirmation should be printed and kept it in a secure location, as it will be needed to check the status of the entry, once results are announced.
Online Status Check From May 2014
Winning applicants will be selected by the DOS at random, following the registration period, and will be able to check the status of their entries online beginning May 1, 2014. This is the only method available for determining whether an application is selected. It is extremely important to retain the confirmation number issued at the time of submission, as discussed above.
Applicants may Include Same-Sex Spouses
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. As a result of this decision, the DOS has indicated that DV applicants may include same-sex spouses.
“Winning” is Only the Beginning
As discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Lottery Winners Timeframe to File Adjustment of Status (23.September.2013), not all individuals selected under the DV lottery will become permanent residents through the program. DV applicant “winners” simply win the potential eligibility to apply for the green card. The DOS selects far more than 50,000 “winners” from the initial applicant pool, even though only 50,000 immigrant visa numbers can be issued each year under this program. This is because some “winners” will not pursue the benefit or will be found to be ineligible. By selecting more than 50,000 applicants in the lottery, the DOS is better able to ensure that all 50,000 visa numbers allotted for the fiscal year are utilized.
Instructions After DV Selection: AOS or CP
Selected individuals are given instructions for proceeding with the actual green card application. Those who are outside of the United States must follow the procedure for applying for an immigrant visa at the appropriate U.S. consulate. Those who are in the United States have the option to either apply for an immigrant visa abroad or file for adjustment of status (AOS) to permanent residence from within the United States. Both the AOS and CP options have additional procedural requirements that should be discussed with a qualified immigration attorney.
The DV lottery is a genuine U.S. government program. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals often try to use the DV lottery to take advantage of foreign nationals. Fraudulent companies posing as the U.S. government have sought money to complete the DV registration. Applicants should be aware that the DOS does not charge a fee for entering the lottery.
Applicants should be wary of communications received regarding the lottery, as well as offers to help increase one’s chance of a successful lottery entry. Selected applicants do not receive notification from the DOS by eMail or regular mail. The lottery entry and selection process operates only through the DOS’s online system.
Using a Lawyer for the AOS Application or CP
Most individuals enter the DV lottery without the help of an immigration attorney. If selected, winners often seek qualified legal assistance to represent them in their immigrant visa or AOS cases. This can be valuable, as lottery cases have strict timeframes with little room to accommodate delays.
Conclusion: Apply, But Do Not Rely
The DV lottery is a random, long-shot option. If one is eligible, it generally is worth submitting an application. However, applicants should not presume that they have a strong likelihood of selection. Even those who are selected face other hurdles, so it is important not to depend upon the lottery and presume one will obtain U.S. permanent residence in this manner. Potential applicants who have questions about the process should schedule a consultation with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.
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