New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Green Card Lottery Rules And Pitfalls: Time To Play!

Author: Green Card Attorney Alena Shautsova

US Diversity Visa Lottery or green card lottery as some call it, is a program that allows to choose candidates for the permanent residency in the US from a pool of certain countries. The lucky persons will be able to apply for an immigrant visa and move the US with the whole family ( spouses and children under 21). Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as ‘‘diversity immigrants,’’ from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For fiscal year 2016, 50,000 diversity visas (DVs) will be available. There is no cost to register for the DV Program. For DV–2016, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply, because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

To be eligible to participate in the lottery a person must:

  • Be born in the qualified country; or the person’s spouse has to be born in a qualified country or parents of the person were born in the qualified country (certain restrictions apply);
  • Possess a high school diploma or its equivalent; equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education;
  • Or have two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Entries for the DV–2016 DV program must be submitted electronically at www.dvlottery.state.gov between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT–4), Wednesday, October 1, 2014, and noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT–5), Monday, November 3, 2014.

As a part of the DV lottery an applicant must submit photos for him/her and all family members. The photos must be current. Sometimes people are using a middle man, a company that uses applicant’s information submitted once, and each year the company resubmits the application. Sometimes, the application that was first submitted to the company five years ago “wins” the lottery. However, often, at the stage of the immigrant interview the applicants is devastated to learn that because his/her child’s photo was not updated from several years ago, the applicant and the entire family would be disqualified...

Another common pitfall is when an applicant does not enter all his/her children. All family members who exist at the time of the application must be listed on the DV form, otherwise, the applicant will be disqualified, even if the deficient entry was due to a mistake.

Finally, not only those who are outside the US may submit DV lottery entries. Those in the US can do it as well! Moreover, submission of the DV lottery does not affect chances for non-immigrant visa or status.

04 October 2014
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