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Diversity Immigrant Visa Program was established by the Congress as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT90) to promote diversity and extend opportunities to individuals from countries and regions underrepresented in recent immigration admissions. Each year, the program allows more than 50,000 people only from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. to obtain permanent residency commonly called a “green card“. It is a way for individuals and families who otherwise wouldn’t have any way to legally immigrate to the United States to get legal status in the United States. In addition to giving aspirant immigrants from all over the world more opportunities, this also welcomes a wider range of abilities and contributions to the American economy and communities. Immigrants shaped the present and the future of America by bringing together their culture and values, and this is the reason why America believes in keeping this title of being the most diverse country in the world intact by opening its route through the Diversity Immigrant Visa program.

Due to the substantial interest in the program, registered applicants are selected using a randomized lottery and are invited to formally apply for the visa if abroad, or to file an adjustment of status application if residing in the United States. Entering the Diversity Visa lottery (aka green card lottery) involves filling out immigration forms. An applicant can enter the lottery every year from early October through early November.

Why is my country ineligible for the Diversity Visa program this year?

Your country will be ineligible for the program if it had more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the last five years. This calculation is made annually or every year, therefore, the list of countries can change from year to year. You can check for updates at the USCIS website.

What am I entitled to with the Diversity Visa?

The diversity visa allows you to live and work in the United States, but the U.S. government won’t cover your travel expenses, find you a place to live or find you a job. As part of your visa application, you will have to prove that you are unlikely to become dependent on the U.S. government for your living expenses. There is no specific amount of money you must prove to have. The consular officer will consider the totality of your circumstances during your visa interview.

Can I use the same photo I submitted in last year’s entry?

Entries that include the same photo from last year’s application will be disqualified. You must use a photograph taken within the last six months.

Will I be able to apply for the program given that I already hold a U.S. visa?

Yes, you can apply even if you already hold a U.S. visa.

How much does it cost to apply in the Diversity Visa Program?

There is no cost when you apply for the program. If selected, you will pay visa fees at the embassy or consulate when you have your interview. Beware of scams related to payment of diversity visa fees!

Why diversity visa runs out for people who were selected for the program?

Only the first 50,000 qualified applicants and derivative family members will be issued visas. After those visas are issued, the program will end. If you wish to receive your visa, you must act promptly when selected. If you miss or reschedule your appointment or come without the required documentation, you risk a visa being unavailable.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Requirements for Eligibility

  1. Have been selected for a diversity visa by DOS’s lottery

  2. Must have a valid passport from your home country.

  3. At least 12 years of formal education (the equivalent to an American high school diploma); or

  4. At least 2 years of work experience in a job that required 2 years of training. This must be within the last 5 years.

  5. Native of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

  6. Have an immigrant visa immediately available at the time of filing an adjustment application (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)

  7. Be admissible to the United States (no major crimes, no deportations, or unlawful presence);

  8. You don’t have to be an English speaker or have family currently living in the US. Further, your family can come with you, as can your pets if they’re allowed in the country.

Applying for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery

Although there aren’t many eligibility requirements, you must still go through an application process. This involves filling in forms and submitting evidence. However, many applicants get something relatively simple wrong such as incorrect photos. It means that up to 65% of applications get rejected before consideration. Providing your application is successful, you’ll then have to attend the diversity visa interview at your local US consulate or embassy. You should prepare for your interview thoroughly and carefully. Failure to be fully prepared for your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can result in delay or denial of your visa application.

An immigration lawyer can provide assistance in determining DV eligibility, submitting a DV application, submitting a visa application on the basis of DV selection, and helping to ensure completion of the visa process within the required time period. Call us at (305) 371-8846, we would be happy to walk you through the Diversity Visa Lottery process!

Patricia Elizee is the managing partner of the Elizee Law Firm, an immigration law firm located at 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. Phone 305-371-8846


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