Immigration law refers to the procedural laws and requirements that a person must follow if they wish to enter into and stay in the United States for any length of time. These laws regulate how a person from another country may qualify for a visa, and under what circumstances they may be deported. While there are many different types of available temporary and permanent visas, many immigrants who already legally reside in the United States have a green card, or a permanent visa.

The Visa Lottery is a program for immigrants to obtain permanent visas, which are also referred to as green cards, into the United States. This program is officially named the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, and is also referred to as the green card lottery. If a person receives a diversity visa, they will be granted permanent residency in the country.

Eligibility and the process for applying for a diversity immigrant visa can vary each year; as such, it is important to check the U.S. Department of State website in order to ensure that the process is completed correctly. Generally speaking, around 50,000 of these visas are given out per year under the lottery. Selection of who receives these visas is randomized from a computer program.

In order to successfully apply for a diversity immigrant visa, you must be a citizen born from a qualifying country. Additionally, you must meet specific occupational and educational requirements. This is one factor that can change from year to year, as well with each presidency, as different countries will be on the list. This determination is based on low immigration rates; meaning, this will include countries that sent the fewest number of immigrants over to the U.S. during the five year period prior to the year that you apply.

Other than being born in an eligible country for the application year, you must also meet other requirements in order to apply for a diversity visa. One of the following must be met in order to apply:

  1. You must have a high school education or, the equivalent to a high school degree from your country; or
  2. You must have two years or more job experience over the last five years in a qualifying field. You will need to check the U.S. Department of State website in order to determine what jobs qualify, as this can change as well.

Another important factor associated with the country eligibility requirement is that there are exceptions if you were not born in the qualified country. An example of this would be how if your spouse was born in an eligible country and you are both issued a diversity visa the same year, you can surpass this requirement. Another example of an exception would be when one parent is born in a qualifying country, and neither parents were residents of your birth country, which was different when you were born in that country.

If you are considered to be inadmissible to the United States when you apply, then you cannot obtain a visa, even if you meet all eligibility requirements. Some of the most common reasons for inadmissibility include:

  • Convictions for certain violent crimes;
  • Drug offenses; and
  • Particular illness afflictions.

What Is The Diversity Visa Program? What Is The Application Process For The Diversity Visa Immigrant Visa Program?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (“DV” Program) is a U.S. Department of State program that provides a lottery system for immigrants who wish to obtain visas. To reiterate, a diversity visa is a green card that grants an individual permanent residency status in the U.S. The DV Program has up to 50,000 visas available each year to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S, as was previously mentioned.

In addition to what was previously discussed regarding the Diversity Visa Program, here are some considerably important things to know about the application process:

  • The application window is about one month long, and generally runs from sometime in October-November. This window will be open only once each year;
  • Only one application per registration period is allowed. However, if you are married, both you and your spouse are allowed to apply. If only one of you is selected, the other spouse may apply for a Diversity Visa as a derivative dependent;
  • The application must be done electronically, meaning that it cannot be mailed in, nor can it be handed in personally;
  • No late entry options are available, under any circumstances;
  • There is no cost to register;
  • You can check the status of your application online; and
  • Only your spouse and children can be included as dependents. What this means is that your parents, siblings, or other family members will not qualify as dependents on your application.

In terms of what information is necessary in order to complete the application, some of the information will need to be considerably more detailed. In general, the following information will be required in order to successfully complete your application:

  • Your name as it appears on your passport;
  • Gender;
  • Birthday;
  • Birth country and city;
  • Country of eligibility for the DV Program;
  • Marital status and number of children;
  • Recent photograph of yourself, spouse, and children;
  • Current mailing address, including country of residence;
  • Email and phone number; and
  • Highest level of education completed.

If your entry is selected during the lottery process, you will be directed to a confirmation page that will provide further instructions regarding how to apply for a diversity visa. This will require more paperwork, and the process will differ based on whether you are currently residing in the U.S. or outside of the country. Additionally, you must be considered to be qualified to receive a visa in order to move forward with the process.

Additionally, there will be various fees associated with obtaining a green card. This is because most individuals who are applying for a diversity visa generally are not currently residing in the U.S. If you are not selected, or if you are selected but are not issued a visa for the current year, you must reapply during the next year’s lottery.

The immigration policies of the U.S. may change in the future, as they tend to change with each presidential administration. When this occurs, the DV Program could be restricted or eliminated entirely. Potential changes to the program could include decreasing the number of countries included on the list, as well as the number of lottery visas that are allotted each year. It is absolutely possible for stricter requirements to be put in place regarding education and skill required.

Do I Need A Lawyer For The Diversity Lottery?

While it is possible to apply for the diversity lottery without the help of an attorney, you could consult with an immigration attorney or visa consultant to assist with your DV Program application. Because the requirements are strict, you do not want to miss any important information that could potentially disqualify you.

However, the government encourages applicants to fill out the entry form on their own. What this means is that if you do have someone help you to apply, you should be present and provide all of the information that is being requested. If you are selected for the lottery, you should consult with an immigration attorney to help navigate the process.