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The Diversity Visa Lottery: An Opportunity for Family Reunification

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What is the Diversity Visa Lottery?

Each year since 1990, the Department of State has offered an opportunity for people living in countries with low migration rates to move to the United States on a permanent residency basis.

The visa program allows more than 50,000 randomly selected people to obtain a green card and is a way for families to immigrate to the US legally.

Entering the diversity visa lottery is free, and the opportunity is open annually from early October through November. However, if you’re selected, you must pay a fee at a later date.

Immigration laws in Chicago provide an overview of how the program works and how to participate.

How Does the Lottery Work?

The lottery happens through a computerized lottery system, with the winners being selected from across various regions of the world. Any country that has sent over 50,000 immigrants to the US over the past five years is excluded. Besides, eligible countries cannot fill more than 7% of the available positions.

Green card attorneys in Chicago highlight that the program is governed by Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The government also administers another type of visa lottery- H-1B, for professionally qualified people in various sectors.

What is the Aim of the Diversity Visa Lottery?

The program seeks to achieve the following three primary objectives:

  • To bring together families that had become dispersed
  • To grow the US economy through diversification of the labor market
  • To enhance multiculturalism for cohesiveness and national identity

These three objectives were established by the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy.

What are the Eligibility Criteria to Enroll in the Program?

Before applying for the diversity lottery program, it’s essential to check if you qualify based on the eligibility criteria outlined in the program. Generally, there are two primary requirements:

Country of Birth

One eligibility requirement for applicants is to be a resident by birth in a country that sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the US over the last five years. However, the Department of State imposes some variations every year, meaning that some nationals may not be eligible to apply in a particular year even if they were eligible the previous year.

For example, applicants from the following countries were ineligible to apply for the diversity lottery visa in 2023:

  • United Kingdom
  • Nigeria
  • Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • Haiti
  • Colombia
  • El Salvador
  • China
  • Canada
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines, among others

To check if your country is eligible in the year you wish to apply for the visa, you can check the State Department’s website for the list of eligible countries.

Other Ways to Qualify

Chicago green card lawyers point out that if you’re not a native of a country with low rates of immigration to the United States, you may be able to qualify for the visa in two other ways:

  • If your spouse is a native of a country with historically low immigration rates to the United States, you claim their country of birth on condition that you’re both named in the selected country, are eligible for and issued with diversity visas, and enter the United States at the same time.
  • You were born in a country with historically low immigration rates to the US, but neither of your parents was born or legally a resident there. In that case, you can claim either of your parents’ countries of birth if it is one of those whose nationals are eligible for the program.

Education and Work Experience

The second primary requirement to qualify for the diversity visa program is the education or work experience requirement. The Department of State requires that you have either:

  • At least a high school degree (successful completion of a 12-year course of formal basic elementary and secondary education) or
  • Work experience for two years within the past five years in employment that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Green card attorneys in Chicago advise against applying for the diversity visa if you don’t meet these requirements.

How Can I Submit an Entry into the DV Program?

You can use the online Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form to apply, ensuring you read the instructions carefully and submit the required documents and details. The process entails multiple steps and has strict deadlines, so it would help to start as soon as the program is open to the public. Generally, the steps are as follows:

  • Submitting an entry
  • Selection of applicants
  • Confirming your qualifications
  • Submitting your immigrant visa and alien registration application
  • Submitting your supporting documents
  • Scheduling for an interview

If you’re selected for the program, you will receive a notification within 6-7 months after the application. Ensure you save the confirmation number you receive after submitting the application, as you will use it to check the status of your application.

Avoiding Scams

Unfortunately, scammers abuse the diversity visa lottery program to defraud unsuspecting applicants. Here are a few things to keep in mind when entering the lottery:

  • Entering the lottery is free, and anyone claiming to collect money on behalf of the Department of State is a scammer. You will only be required to pay a fee if you win and are permitted to apply, but that will be in person at the US embassy or consulate
  • The drawing is random and by computer
  • You can only check if you have been selected for the program using the Entrant Status Check. The Department will not send you mail or email for the same.

A Skilled Immigration Lawyer Providing Legal Counsel on Immigration Procedures

If you envision living the American dream or reuniting with your family already in the country, you could apply for various types of visas, depending on eligibility. One type is the diversity visa, available through the annual lottery program. You can consult extensively with skilled green card attorneys on the requirements and process to be well-guided.

SwagatUSA, LLC, has skilled immigration lawyers who can provide legal support and help you with your immigration petitions. The highly professional team is pleased to offer personalized services to better your chances of becoming a legal resident in the United States. Call us at 773-825-8695 to schedule a consultation.

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