There are many outlets an individual can take to obtain lawful, permanent residence in the United States. Many are able to apply and be approved for family-based petitions, employment-based petitions, and humanitarian-based petitions. However, if you are not qualified for any of these petitions, there is still a route for you to obtain citizenship: the diversity visa lottery.
First established in 1990, the diversity visa lottery is a random selection process that allows nearly 50,000 immigrants to be granted lawful, permanent residence in the United States – commonly referred to as a green card. The purpose of this program is to allow people from countries who are underrepresented to immigrate to the U.S. If you are interested in entering the lottery, there are 5 important aspects to be aware of, which are:
- Who Is Eligible To Submit An Application
As previously stated, the purpose of this program is to gain more immigrants from countries who are currently underrepresented in the United States – hence the “diversity” in the name. That means that some people will not be able to apply because there is already a large group of people that have immigrated from their home country. The list may be subject to change from year to year, but if you’re looking to apply for fiscal year 2024, some of the ineligible countries include:
- South Korea
- And more.
To view the full list of ineligible countries, refer to the State Department. It is also important to note that, even if your home country is included in this list, you can still apply for the diversity visa lottery if your spouse was born in an eligible country, or if your parents’ were born in an eligible country and have never been legal residents in your country of birth.
- The Qualifications To Submit An Application
Compared to the other types of visas, the qualifications to apply for the diversity lottery are actually simple and straightforward – there isn’t even a fee! The only things applicants need to be able to prove are that they have the equivalent of a high school education, and have 2 years of work experience in a job that requires at least 2 years of training within the last 5 years. The application window is open from October to November.
- How The Process Works
By early May, you should be able to see if you’ve been selected in the lottery by accessing the entrant status check link on the diversity visa webpage and entering your application confirmation number. Even if you have been chosen, this does not mean you are automatically granted a green card – you must still meet all of the qualifications that it takes to apply. This means you must complete and submit Form I-485, as well as all of the supporting documents it calls for. Just as for those that apply for family-based visas, employment-based visas, or humanitarian-based visas, mistakes on your application are the most common reason for being denied. In addition, your application may be denied because you are deemed a security risk, have certain health conditions, have a criminal record, or are predicted to become reliant on government assistance.
- If You’re Selected, You Don’t Have Time To Waste
Winners of the lottery are on a strict time crunch. Your application must be processed and your visa issued before the end of the fiscal year in which you were selected. There are also more people chosen than there are visas available. For both of these reasons, the faster and more accurately your application is completed and submitted, the higher the chance you have at actually being issued a visa. The first visas become available on the day the fiscal year starts (October 1) and you are able to submit your application up to 90 days before that.
- Beware Of Scammers!
There are people all over the world looking to make a quick buck by scamming people on the internet, even in this category. Some sites may claim to have tips, tricks, or even the “secret” to winning the lottery if you pay them a fee. Don’t fall for it! Winners are chosen randomly by a computer system; there is no way to improve your odds or have a higher chance of being selected.
Isn’t There Any Way To Up My Odds?
The short answer is no – there is no way to have a better chance at being selected than anyone else. However, if you are married, both you and your spouse should apply. Only one of you needs to be selected; the other will be able to gain legal, permanent resident status through a marriage-based petition.
The same goes for your family members. While a relative winning the diversity visa lottery won’t allow you to get a green card right away, they could help sponsor you if you decide to apply for a family-based green card, thus opening a door for you to continue your immigration journey.
If There’s No Way To Have A Better Chance At Winning, Why Do I Need To Work With A Lawyer?
The assistance of an immigration attorney can still be invaluable when it comes to making sure your initial application to the diversity visa lottery is error-free. Mistakes on your application or missing the deadline to apply could prevent you from ever being put into the lottery in the first place. Next, as already stated, you must still go through the same green card process if you’re selected, which means that there are more forms and documents to submit. With the help of an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney, you will have a better chance at your green card being accepted and being able to obtain lawful, permanent residence in the U.S.
The Santos Law Offices, P.A. Are Here To Help
Our firm has over 20 years of combined experience in helping immigrants with their legal needs. For more information regarding the diversity visa lottery or other means of obtaining permanent resident status, call to schedule your free phone consultation today!