FY21 Diversity Lottery Registration Begins 02 Oct 201930 Sep 2019
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has issued instructions for entry into the fiscal year (FY) 2021 diversity visa (DV) lottery, more commonly known as the “green card” lottery. The FY21 diversity lottery will grant 55,000 immigrant visas to qualified applicants. Registration for FY21 begins at noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on October 2, 2019, and will conclude on November 5, 2019, at noon Eastern Standard Time (EST).
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) individuals with a spouse who was born in a qualifying country and, less commonly, (2) certain foreign nationals who were born outside of 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.
New Passport Requirement
In June 2019, the Trump Administration imposed a new requirement to enter the DV lottery. The applicant must have a valid passport at the time of entering the lottery. Several prospective applicants have already filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of this policy. For now, however, this requirement remains in place.
Instructions to Apply for the DV Lottery
DV lottery registration is only possible through a designated online portal. Applicants should read the rules and frequently asked questions (FAQs) before completing the registration. Applications must be complete and contain accurate information regarding marital status and names of family members. It is important to include any spouse and all living, unmarried children under 21 years of age. 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 electronic entry, the confirmation page will direct the DV applicant to review the information and it will provide 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 on dvlottery.state.gov beginning May 5, 2020, and ending September 30, 2021. The Entrant Status Check is the ONLY means by which the DOS notifies individuals regarding the DV lottery results.
Selection No Guarantee of Green Card
The DOS will issue a maximum of 55,000 DVs in FY21. Unused immigrant visas, if any, will not carry over to the next fiscal year. Since some of those selected in the lottery ultimately will not wish to complete the permanent residence process, or will not be eligible to do so, the DOS selects far more than 55,000 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 actually will receive a green card under the DV program.
Instructions After DV Selection
The DOS provides additional instructions to individuals selected in the DV lottery on how to further pursue the green card process. Applicants who are abroad must process for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consular post abroad. This is known as consular processing (CP). After the immigrant visa is issued, the individual is permitted to travel to the United States and gain admission as a permanent resident at a U.S. port of entry. Individuals who are in the United States may select to use CP or, more commonly, file for adjustment of status (AOS), 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. The DV lottery entry process is intended to be user friendly, and individuals typically complete their entries without the help of lawyers. Once selected, however, winners frequently seek immigration attorneys to assist them with the CP or the AOS processing.
Winning Requires Submission
Each year, many individuals become permanent residents through the DV program. However, MurthyDotCom readers are cautioned not to rely on 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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