FY 2017 Diversity Lottery Registration02 Oct 2015
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has issued instructions for entry in the fiscal year 2017 (FY17) diversity visa (DV) lottery. The DV lottery, often called the “green card” lottery, grants 50,000 visa numbers each year to qualified applicants. Registration for FY17 began on October 1, 2015 and will conclude on November 3, 2015, at noon Eastern Time.
Eligibility Limited to Designated Countries
The purpose of the DV lottery is to provide permanent resident status to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Thus, the first step is to review the list of excluded countries of origin, whose nationals are generally NOT eligible to apply. There are two exceptions to this rule: (1) those who have a spouse born in a qualifying country and, less commonly, (2) certain foreign nationals who were born outside their parents’ country of birth and residence.
Education / Work Experience Requirement
DV lottery applicants are also subject to an educational or work experience requirement. Applicants must have at least a high school education (or equivalent), or two years of work experience within the past five years in a qualifying occupation. Qualifying occupations are, per the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), those that require at least two years of training or experience. The instructions provide guidance on the qualifying education requirement and how to determine the amount of experience required for one’s occupation.
Instructions to Apply for the DV Lottery
DV lottery registration is only possible through a designated online portal. Applicants should go over the rules and frequently asked questions (FAQs) before completing the registration. Applications must be complete and contain accurate information regarding the marital status and the name of one’s spouse (if any). It is important to include all living, unmarried children under age 21. Similarly, the instructions set out specific requirements for submission of photographs of the applicant and all listed family members (spouse and children). Failure to provide all the information and photographs requested will result in disqualification.
Confirmation Number Requirement
After submission of a proper DV17 electronic entry, an applicant is directed to the confirmation page. This provides the applicant with an individual confirmation number. It is important to retain this information in order to check back to find out whether one was selected in the lottery.
Lottery Results Posted Online in May
After registration is complete, the DOS conducts a lottery to select the applicants who may be able to pursue permanent residence under the DV program. Using the confirmation number discussed above, an applicant can see the outcome of the case as of May 3, 2016.
Selection No Guarantee of Green Card
The DOS can issue a maximum of 50,000 DVs each fiscal year. If any of these immigrant visas go unused, they do not carry over to the next fiscal year. Because some of the lottery “winners” ultimately will not wish to complete the permanent residence process, or will not be eligible to do so, the DOS selects far more than 50,000 lottery applications to better ensure that all of the available DVs are used. This means that “winning” the DV lottery does not guarantee that one will actually receive a green card under the DV program.
Instructions After DV Selection
Individuals selected in the DV lottery are provided additional instructions on how to further pursue the green card process. Applicants who are abroad will need to process for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consular post abroad. This is known as consular processing (CP). If the immigrant visa is granted, the individual is permitted to travel to the United States and gain admission as a permanent resident at a port of entry. Individuals who are in the United States may select to use CP or, more commonly, file for adjustment of status, if otherwise eligible to do so.
Legal Advice and Assistance
There are specific procedural requirements attached to eligibility for both AOS and CP. There are additional procedural variations that are specific to the DV lottery program, and strict timelines. Still, the DV lottery entry process is intended to be user friendly and individuals typically complete their entries without the help of a lawyer. Once selected, however, winners frequently do seek the help of immigration lawyers.
Winning Requires Submission
There are many fortunate individuals each year who become permanent residents through the DV program. However, MurthyDotCom readers are cautioned not to rely upon the lottery unless and until one successfully completes the process of obtaining permanent residence. Those who have questions about the DV program are welcome to consult with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.
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