What is the Diversity Visa?
The United States has been called a melting pot of immigration because of the large numbers of different countries represented by the population. It’s a country of immigrants, many of whom find a permanent future there through programs like the Diversity Visa (DV). The DV program was run in an unofficial capacity until it was put into law by the Immigration Act of 1990.
This law solidified the DV as a way for people from underrepresented countries to legally immigrate to the US. In recent years, the program has allowed a maximum of 50,000 randomly selected applicants from eligible countries around the world to apply directly for a Green Card. Because of the random selection process and the low percentage of applicants who are likely to be selected, the DV is often called the Green Card lottery.
Who Can Apply for a Diversity Visa?
There are only a few requirements if you want to apply for the Diversity Visa program.
- High school education or equivalent OR sufficient work experience in a qualifying field
- Birth in a country that is listed as eligible for application (some exceptions apply)
Each year, a list of eligible countries is released. You can check out the 2019 DV eligible country list at the Department of State website here. Countries that are ineligible are generally those who have had more than 50,000 of their natives immigrate to the US in the past 5 years.
You have to meet both requirements to be eligible to apply. If you don’t meet both requirements, you can’t apply for the Diversity Visa program.
The Application Process
You are only allowed to apply in a limited open enrollment period. For the 2019 Diversity Visa program, the application period started October 18th, 2017 at noon EDT and ends on November 22nd, 2017 at noon EST. Applications are submitted exclusively online, and will not be considered if they are completed on paper or sent in late. Those who submit more than one application, even if accidentally, will be disqualified, so be careful not to submit anything after you receive a confirmation email!
Because of an error in the system during this 2017 application process, anyone who submitted applications from October 3rd to 10th, 2017 needs to resubmit their application. Previously, the enrollment period had opened at that time, but due to an error all of the applications from that time period are invalid and must be resubmitted.
You can start your application for the 2019 Diversity Visa here.
What to Do If You Are Selected for a Diversity Visa
Once you’ve applied successfully, you’ll be sent an email with a confirmation number on it. Keep that number safe! You’ll use that number to check if your application was successful or not, as you will not be directly alerted by the government. You can log in at any point from May 18th, 2018 to check for updates.
Just because you are selected does not mean you will automatically receive a Green Card. Selection only means you will now be eligible to apply for a Green Card. You still need to be found admissible to the US, and you will have to follow all the regular Green Card application processes. If you need assistance at this point in the process, a United States immigration lawyer can be a great asset to help you prepare for interviews, submit the proper documents, and collect the evidence to prove you will not be a burden on the US government.
Watch Out for Green Card Lottery Scams!
The US government will never directly contact you about a successful or unsuccessful application. Once you receive your confirmation number, you are fully responsible for checking on the progress of your case on your own. Don’t entrust your information on anyone else, and don’t fall for any scams claiming you’ve been successful. If you hear you’ve been accepted, always confirm on the Department of State website before doing anything.
You will never be asked to send money until you have been selected for the Diversity Visa and have begun applying for your Green Card. Specific channels will be used, not Western Union or any other money transfer services.
The Diversity Visa program is a great way for citizens of underrepresented countries to get a chance to immigrate to the US. It’s free to apply and can be done completely online. If you are selected to apply for a Diversity Visa, you can contact the Law Offices of Fady Eskandar for more information about the Green Card application process and US immigration laws. If you are not selected to apply for a Diversity Visa, you can contact us to explore your options of obtaining an immigrant or a non-immigrant visa to the US.