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The US government initiated the Diversity visa program to encourage visa applications from countries that historically have low immigration rates to the US. The Diversity visa is also known as the Green Card lottery and was created in 1990 under the Immigration Act. You can enter the lottery if you are native to one of the listed countries provided you meet certain criteria.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa program makes 50,000 immigrant visas available yearly, drawn from a random selection taken from among all the entries from countries with low rates of immigration to the US. The Department of State administers the DV program.
EligibilityThere are 50,000 lottery slots that are made available every year. These slots are chosen by dividing the world into regions and allocating roughly 7% of the total number of green cards to each region. If you are chosen in the lottery and successfully manage to navigate the process, your spouse and children below 21 years of age can apply for US lawful permanent residence.
Eligibility on the basis of native countryPeople from most countries are eligible for the diversity visa. The only countries whose citizens DO NOT qualify for the program, as of November 10, 2020, are:
UK except Northern Ireland
People from countries apart from these can submit an entry into the program. Each year different countries qualify on the basis of which part of the world sent the fewest numbers of the immigrants to the US in the past five years, in proportion to the size of their population.
Diversity visa applicants should be able to provide evidence that they were born in the country they are applying from; merely living in the country there is not sufficient. You must have a valid passport from that country at the time you apply for the visa. In case you are native of the ineligible country, there are two ways to get around this:
If your spouse was born in a country that is on the eligibility list, you can claim your spouse country of birth for the lottery purpose. Though, the spouse must be eligible to receive a visa to accompany you to the US and must enter the US with you. ‘
If neither of your parents were born in your native country or actually made a home there at the time you were born, you can claim nativity in one of your parent’s country of birth.
As the process is quite complex it is best to seek help from a well experienced Diversity Visa immigration attorney. Attorneys at Rijal Law Firm can help you understand the process and assess your eligibility.
Qualifying for the diversity visa or lottery is not enough, on its own. You must also have:
A high school diploma or its equivalent
A minimum of two years of experience in a job that requires at least two years of experience or training
Application ProcessIf you are from a qualifying country and you meet the other eligibility criteria, you need to submit an entry during the open registration period. Only one entry can be submitted per year; if you try to apply more than once, your visa lottery applications will be tossed out. Your spouse and other qualifying members can also apply as the winning applicant may bring both their spouse and the kids. All the petitioners must submit an application visa to the State Department’s website and attach digital photos of their own and their dependents. There is no initial registration fee and the form is fairly simple. At the end of the online entry process, the applicant gets a confirmation number. Save this number in a safe location and check back to the State Department website once the lottery is conducted, using the confirmation number to find out whether you have been selected for one of the diversity visas.
The US government always declares more winners than there are Green Cards. Therefore, you need to follow up fast. Most of the hard work lies ahead in terms of filing out the application forms, scheduling an interview and gathering documents. If chosen for the diversity visa, you should immediately hire an immigration attorney to help you prepare the forms, gather the necessary documents and prepare for the interview. You also need to prove that you are not inadmissible to the US for any disqualifying reason.
What to do when you receive your visa
Passport with visa: The diversity visa is placed on a page in your passport. You need to review the information and ensure that there are no errors. If there are spelling errors, contact the embassy right away.
Sealed immigrant package: You will receive a sealed packet that contains documents that needs to be presented to the CBP official at the US port-of-entry. It is best not to open this sealed packet.
Ideal travel time: You should arrive and apply for admission in the US no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. Usually, a diversity visa is valid for six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner.
USCIS fee: You must pay the fee to the USCIS after receiving your immigrant visa and before travelling to the US.
Vaccination records: Children are required to have certain vaccinations before enrolling them in schools in the US. Thus, it is crucial to have complete vaccination records before immigrating.
Adjustment of statusIf you have been selected for the diversity visa and are in the US, you can claim your resident status by filing the Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status (AOS). The process involves mailing all the required documents as part of the application and attending an interview at USCIS.
If you wish to participate in the diversity lottery program, or if you have been selected to receive a diversity lottery, schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney at Rijal Law Firm now.