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Diversity Immigrant Visa Program Begins Oct 4, 2016

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Tomorrow, October 4, 2016 is the opening day for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program Fiscal Year 2018!  The DV program is a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows immigrants from historically low rates of immigration the opportunity to apply for a greencard in the U.S.  Each year, 50,000 diversity visa (DVs) are available.

All eligible applicants must submit their applications online.  Similar to the H-1B Lottery where USCIS conducts a computerized drawing, the Department of State uses a computerized system to randomly draw winners in the DV Program.  Winners are eligible to advance to the next step of applying for a greencard.

The DV Program is great for foreigners interested in permanently immigrating to the United States.  However, this process is not without some pitfalls and warnings.  First, foreign nationals who are in the United States in a temporary non-immigrant status should be warned that submitting an immigrant visa application to the U.S. government may negatively impact your non-immigrant status.  Please double-check with an immigration attorney if you find yourself in this situation.  Second, the deadline to successful navigate through this process, if you are selected in the lottery, expires quickly.  If you snooze, you will lose!

What Are the DV Program Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible to submit an online application, applicants

  1. Must be born in an eligible country.
    1. Nationals of these countries are ineligible: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
    2. Nationals of all other countries listed by the Department of State, including the countries persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan, are eligible.
    3. You may claim the country of birth of your spouse, or your parent (certain limitations apply)
  2. Must meet the educational or work requirements
    1. At least a high school education or equivalent, or
    2. 2 years of work experience within the past 5 years, in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform

When Should Applicants Submit their DV Program Application?

The period to apply usually opens sometime in early October of each year and lasts for about a month.  The Department of State typically will make an announcement each fiscal year in September.

For example, the FY2018 DV Lottery opens on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at noon Eastern Standard Time and ends at noon, Eastern Standard Time, Monday, November 7, 2016.

Applicants may submit only one electronic entry.  Submitting more than one entry will disqualify the applicant.  There is no fee to submit an application online.  Each application is considered one entry.  For married applicants, their spouses may submit their own, separate application.

What Information Is Needed to Submit a DV Program Application?

Applications must be submitted online to the Department of State’s DV Program Website.  The following information will be required from all applicants:

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • City where you were born
  • Country where you were born
  • Country in which you are eligible under the DV Program
  • Digital photograph taken within the last six months
  • Mailing address
  • Country where you currently live
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Details about your highest education level
  • Current marital status
  • Number of children

Applicants will receive an online entry registration that contains a unique confirmation number.  Applicants will know their online submission was successful when a confirmation number is issued.

How Are Applicants Notified of Selection in the Lottery?

In May of the following year, the Department of State will usually announce the results of the DV Program.  The Entrant Status Check is made available on the E-DV Website www.dvlottery.state.gov where applicants can check their unique confirmation number to see if their application was selected in the DV Program lottery.  (If you lost your confirmation number, you may retrieve your confirmation number on the website.)

For the FY2018 DV Program, the website will be available from May 2, 2017 through the end of September 30, 2018.  Applicants will be able to check if their applications were selected or not selected in the DV Program lottery.  Being selected does not mean an immigrant visa (aka “greencard”) has been issued; it merely means that applicants are now eligible for the next step in the process, applying for an immigrant visa.

Applicants selected will be redirected to a link with instructions on how to submit an immigrant visa application and what fees will need to be paid.

When to Submit an Immigrant Visa (aka Greencard)?

Immigrant visa applications may be submitted during very specific periods of time within that fiscal year period.  For example, an applicant who submitted an application in October 2016 for the FY2018 DV Program, and was selected in the lottery in May 2017 will need to monitor the E-DV website regularly to determine when he or she will be eligible to advance to the final step: submitting the immigrant visa application.

Not everyone who is selected in the DV Program lottery will be able to submit an immigrant visa application immediately.  This is because the Department of State usually selects over 50,000 applicants, because not all the applicants selected in the lottery will ultimately meet the requirements to be approved for an immigrant visa.  The Department of State will issue a lottery ranking to each selected applicant via the E-DV website.  The lottery ranking numbers will correspond with a range of numbers each month, indicating which ranks are eligible to submit an immigrant visa application.  Lottery rank numbers that are current indicate the applicant is eligible to submit their immigrant visa applications.

Therefore, applicants should monitor the E-DV website regularly and submit their immigrant visa applications as soon as their lottery ranks are within the current numbers.  Their applications must also be reviewed, approved and issued on or before the end of the fiscal year of that program.  For example, FY2018 DV Program applicants who are selected in the lottery must have their immigrant visa applications approved/issued on or before September 30, 2018.

Visit the Department of State’s DV website or read the official instructions here to confirm a list of eligible countries.  If you liked today’s article, please share it with your friends and subscribe to blog today.

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