A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Diversity Visa ("Visa Lottery") 2015 Program

If you would like to obtain a U.S. green card but have no basis to apply for one, the annual Diversity Visa Program may be the answer.  The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program or "Visa Lottery") was created by Congress to provide an opportunity for individuals from countries with historically how rates of immigration to the U.S. to obtain permanent resident status.  It is an annual program with approximately 50,000 visas available.  For fiscal year 2015, the online application period will run from Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:00 noon, EST, to Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:00 noon, EST.

Eligibility

1) Eligible Countries:   Natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because they sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China(mainland-born), Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Nigeria and Vietnam.

For DV-2015, natives of Nigeria are no longer eligible.

Although people born in mainland China are not eligible to apply, those who were born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible for DV-2014.  Besides, natives from other countries including Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. are also eligible for selection.

Even if a person’s native country is not eligible for visa lottery, there are two other ways that the person may qualify to apply.  First, if this person’s spouse was born in an eligible country, than the person may also apply based on the spouse’s native country.  Secondly, if an applicant was born in an ineligible country such as China, but his or her parents were born in an eligible country such as Taiwan and they were not residing in China at the time of applicant’s birth, then the applicant is also eligible to apply.

2) Education and Work Experience Requirement:   An applicant must either have a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Family members 

For a married couple, if both husband and wife are qualified, they may each submit one application in order to increase the chances of being selected. Which family members should be included in the application?  The application must list the applicant’s spouse and all living unmarried children under the age of 21, including step-children and legally adopted children.  Even if a family member has no intention to immigrate, he or she must be included in the application form. The only exception is that the family member is a U.S. citizen or green card holder.

When and how to submit an entry

Entries for the DV-2015 program must be submitted electronically between noon, Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:00 noon, EST, and Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:00 noon, EST. Applicants may access the electronic DV Entry Form (E-DV) at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted. Do not wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 2, 2013.

The DV program makes visas available to persons meeting simple but strict requirements. Applicants should carefully follow the program instructions to fill-out the application form and submit all required photographs.  Entries not following the official instructions and requirements will be rejected and disqualified.  Furthermore, DHS is technologically capable of identifying fraudulent entries, illegal entries or multiple entries. After an application is submitted, a unique confirmation number is generated.  This number should be kept in a safe place for future reference.

Selection process

Lucky winners will be randomly selected by a computer system.  There are no ways to improve the odds of getting selected.  As stated before, all eligible members within a member may apply individually, thus increasing the chance of winning. 

When and how to find out the results

Beginning May 1, 2014, applicants will be able to check the status of their DV-2015 entries online.  Visit www.dvlottery.state.gov, click on Entrant Status Check, and enter the unique confirmation number and personal information. Entrant Status Check will be the only means through which applicants may check the status of their applications.  It will also provide instructions to the winners of the visa lottery how to proceed with the application process, and also notify them of their appointments for their immigrant visa interview. Therefore, it is very important for an applicant to keep the confirmation number.

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