As part of our guide to green cards, we offer this guide on the diversity visa process to get a green card. If you are looking for information on the diversity visa process please keep reading. If you have won the diversity visa lottery and need help filing for either adjustment of status or with consular processing, please contact us for a strategy consultation. We can help you.
The Diversity Visa
The United States is, and has always been, a nation of immigrants. Due to large amounts of people who want to emigrate to the US every year, Congress created various systems to ensure equity and order. Since 1990, the US has a permanent lottery system. This lottery provides 50,000 people the ability to get lawful permanent residency, a green card. Congress modeled this permanent lottery program after earlier programs. These programs delivered immigrant visas to countries that have not sent immigrants to the United States.
To make sure that the program benefits residents of countries that haven’t sent a lot of immigrants to the United States, the Department of State keeps track of the nationality of all US immigrants. Countries that send more than 50,000 people to the United States in the last year, become ineligible for the next lottery. For example, at the time of writing this Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia and the Dominican Republic were ineligible.
The Lottery Process
To be eligible for this program, you must be from a listed country. You also must have at least a high school education. Alternatively, you can qualify with experience. Your experience must be in a trade or skill that requires at least two years of training. You must also be admissible, eligible to be a green card holder. The Department of State (DOS) closes the USA lottery once the registration period closes. It then selects 100,000 applicants. In the early days of the program, the DOS notified winners by mail, and then by email. Since 2012, every applicant has been able to check on his status through the DV lottery website.
A Race to the Finish – The Diversity Visa Program As a Race
Why choose 100,000 winners if the DOS will only admit 50,000 immigrants? The main reason is that once DOS chooses the applicants, these winners must qualify for the benefit. If the DOS finds that an applicant falsified any information, has a criminal history or fails to meet the eligibility requirements, it will disqualify her. Someone else will then take their place. It might seem strange, but we’ve seen cases where people lack a high school education or don’t have two years experience in a skilled trade yet apply anyway. Regardless of winning the USA lottery, they will not receive a green card. Also, an applicant can take themselves out of the running for their own personal reasons. By picking double the number of total entrants, the DOS process ensures that there will always be 50,000 winners.
Once the DOS selects the application, it next assigns them a number. The DOS begins with the lowest numbers first. It then processes higher numbers sequentially until the 50,000 green card lottery winners have visas. So, if you meet the requirements and your number is below 50,000, you can be confident that you will receive an immigrant visa. Yet, the higher your number above 50,000, the less likely you will be to even have an opportunity.
How to Apply
For someone who is trying to move to the US but doesn’t have many other options, the Diversity Visa is an attractive option. So, how does one go about starting the process? The most direct way of doing this would be to file electronically with the Department of State during the registration period.
Many companies advertise themselves as visa agents or visa consultants. These companies offer the service of submitting an application on your behalf. Some of these companies are legitimate and charge you to make sure that your diversity visa application is correct and properly filed. Other companies are more unscrupulous and simply steal your money submitting no application. The DOS makes application as simple as possible, and recommends that you do it yourself.
You Won the Green Card Lottery. What Next?
After the DOS announces that it has selected the 100,000 applicants in the diversity visa lottery, you can use the same website to check to see whether you won. Assuming that you won, we first recommend that you assess your chances of receiving a visa. If your number is high, over 50,000, you may have won the lottery, but you may not win a visa. If you have a low number, you check with the Visa Bulletin to see if you are eligible to begin processing of your case. Each month the DOS publishes the Visa Bulletin and list the number that they are working on.
Consular Processing for Your Diversity Visa
Once you know that you are eligible to apply for the diversity visa, your number is current on the Visa Bulletin list, the question becomes where are you going to collect it? If you applied from outside of the United States and have no means to get here, you have to process for a visa in your home country. You do that by working with the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), providing all the required documentation. The KCC then transfers your case to the US Embassy with jurisdiction over your home. You then receive an appointment to apply for the visa in person. Once you have the visa, you can come to the United States as an immigrant. You last apply for the lottery green card through the ELIS program.
Adjustment of Status for Diversity Lottery Winners
Sometimes applicants for the diversity lottery already present in the United States. After all, it doesn’t make any difference where you submit your application from. If you do win, and you live in the US rather than processing for a visa in your home country, you are eligible to apply for adjustment of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The only constraint on this adjustment of status process is that you must receive your status as a lawful permanent resident before the end of your winning visa. The USCIS is aware of the limited lifespan of these diversity visas and makes every effort to process them quickly.
How We Can Help
You can see from this discussion that it is not very difficult to enter the diversity lottery and check whether you have won. The hard work comes in assessing your chance of converting your winning number into a visa. We can help you with either the consular processing through the KCC or the adjustment of status with USCIS. If you need help securing your future through the US green card lottery, please contact us. We will start with a strategy consultation, and figure out the best way to help you.