What is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
The Diversity Visa (DV) Program was established by the 1990 Immigration Act, the program, also known as the green card lottery, was created to encourage a more diverse population in the US. Every year a number of immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the US have the chance to be considered for a Permanent Residence Card in a lottery program.
Each fiscal year the program will select applicants from countries in 6 regions including Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceana, and South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. No single country can receive more than 7% of the available Diversity Visas in one year.
The number of Diversity Visas available is capped every year, usually, there are around 50,000 available. Diversity Visa applicants who are selected in the lottery are not guaranteed a visa and will still need to make a visa application after being selected.
Diversity immigrants who are selected in the DV lottery and who have a successful application will be awarded an immigrant visa that will allow them to live, work and study in the UK permanently. Their immediate family members will also be given immigrant visas.
Who is eligible for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
To be eligible for the Diversity Visa program you must be from a country with historically low immigration rates to the US. If you were born in a country in which over 50,000 citizens have immigrated to the US in the last 5 years then you will not be eligible for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.
The countries exempt from the Diversity Visa program include Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
If you are from any of the above countries there are two circumstances in which you could still be eligible for the Diversity Visa Program, this includes if your spouse’s country is a qualifying country and they are named on your application or if at least one of your parent’s country is a qualifying country and neither of your parents were born in your birth country and they were not legally resident in your country at the time of your birth.
If you are from a country with low immigration rates then you will still need to meet several strict requirements in order to be eligible for the Diversity Visa Program. Every Diversity Visa applicant must have a high school education or equivalent, this means you must have completed a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education. If you do not have the correct standard of education then you could still be eligible if you have two years of qualifying work experience from the previous 5 years in an occupation that requires at least 2 years of training to perform.
How to apply for the Diversity Visa lottery
You must register to be entered into the Diversity Visa lottery and registration is only open for a certain period of time every year. Information about when the online registration period will be is published every year by the Department of State. To apply you must complete and submit your entry form online here. Paper entries are not available and you cannot apply after the registration period is over. You can also only submit your entry once, if you do this more than once then the online system will disqualify your application.
When applying you will be expected to give the following information:
- Your name, gender, and date of birth
- The city and country that you were born in
- The country of eligibility for the Diversity Visa Program (this will usually be the same as your place of birth)
- Your passport details including your passport number, country of issuance, and expiration date
- Recent photographs of you, your spouse, and children
- Your address
- The country that you currently live in
- Your email address
- Information about your education
- Your marital status
- The number of children you have
Once you have completed the online application you will see a confirmation screen displaying your name and a unique confirmation number, you should print this confirmation screen so that you can use your confirmation number to check on the status of your application.
What happens if you are selected?
Diversity Visa applicants are selected in an annual lottery every year that is carried out automatically by the online system. You can find out whether you have been selected in the Diversity Visa Program through the Entrant Status Check available at dvprogram.state.gov. If you have been selected you will also be able to view more information about the visa application process.
Being selected in the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery does not mean that you have automatically been given an immigrant visa, it only means that you now have the opportunity to apply for a visa. It is recommended that you submit your visa application as soon as possible. As part of the visa application process you will need to:
- Complete and submit The DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application form
- Gather a portfolio of supporting documents to prove that you meet the visa eligibility requirements.
- Undergo a medical examination.
- Pay the visa application fee.
- Book and attend a visa interview.
Following your visa interview, consular officers will decide whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the Diversity Visa.
How can Total Law help?
Registering for the Diversity Visa Program is a fairly straightforward process that the U.S Department of State recommends you do yourself. However, if you have any questions about the program or your eligibility, our immigration attorneys are here to help. Although registration can be simple, the application process for a visa, if you are accepted, is not. When applying for an immigrant visa you will need a substantial portfolio of supporting documents and you will need to go through a complex process that includes attending a visa interview.
Our immigration lawyers are experts in US immigration law and offer a range of immigration services, including visa application packages. Our attorneys can support you throughout the entire visa application process, giving you the best chance of success. From helping you to gather your documents, to preparing you for your interview, our team will be with you every step of the way.
For more information about the Diversity Visa Program or how our team can assist with applications for immigrant visas, get in touch today on +1 844 290 6312
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There is no fee to register for the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery but if you are selected then you will have to pay a visa application fee. The fee for Diversity Visa applicants is $330 per person, this fee is non-refundable.
If you are selected in the Diversity Visa lottery and your visa application is successful then your immediate relatives, which includes your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21, will also be awarded green cards, you must remember to list them all on your application. Other family members may be able to join you in the USA by applying for one of the family-based green cards after your arrival in the country.
Only countries with historically low rates of immigration to the US are eligible for the DV lottery. The full list of eligible countries can be found on the U.S State Department website.
Countries that have had over 50,000 citizens immigrate to the US during the last 5 years are not eligible, ineligible countries include Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
Around 50,000 lottery winners are chosen at random in the Diversity lottery every year. Your chances of winning depend on how many people have applied, usually between 13 and 20 million people apply every year.
The best way of increasing your chance of winning is by making sure that all eligible family members enter the DV lottery. If your spouse wins in the lottery then you and your unmarried children under the age of 21 will also be awarded green cards. If your children are selected then you will not be able to join them in the US straight away but could apply for a green card to join them once they have arrived.