- What is the Diversity Visa Program?
- What are the requirements for the Diversity Visa Program?
- How to enter the Green Card lottery?
- How are successful applicants selected?
- What happens when my entry is selected?
- What documents do I need to submit if I am selected?
- How to prepare for the visa interview?
- Can my family come to the US with me if I win the Diversity Visa Program?
- How long does it take to get the Green Card after winning the lottery?
What is the Diversity Visa Program?
The Diversity Visa Program was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 to make the US population more diverse. Each year nationals of countries with a low rate of immigration to the US get a chance to be considered for a US Green Card.
There are 50,000 non-immigrant visas available for the lottery participants every year. The winners are selected randomly. Any person who is a citizen of a country that has a historically low immigration rate to the US can apply, as long as they meet the requirements set by the US immigration law.
If you want to have a chance to get the US Green Card this way, you need to apply within a specific timeframe. Otherwise, if you miss the deadline, your application will not be taken into consideration. Each candidate can submit only one entry.
What are the requirements for the Diversity Visa Program?
To be eligible for entry into the Diversity Visa Program, each candidate must meet the following requirements:
- Be a citizen of a country that has a low immigration rate to the US. If you are not sure if that applies to your home country, you should check the list issued every year by the US Department of State.
- Have high school education, which means that an applicant needs to have completed a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to finishing a 12-year course in the US.
- Have two or more years of qualifying work experience
- Not be eligible to get US citizenship by another path
- Have a valid passport, unless the individuals entering the lottery are stateless or unable to obtain a passport from the authorities because of undemocratic rule.
If you enter the lottery and are selected, but do not meet the requirements, you will not receive the Green Card.
How to enter the Green Card lottery?
There is a limited period of time during which applicants can enter the Program. Every year, the lottery is open for four to five weeks, usually in spring but the exact dates vary. To find out what the dates of the registration period are that year, you need to visit the website of the Department of State.
To take part in the lottery, you need to submit an entry online on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website. There, you have to fill an online form. It is impossible to submit the entry in paper form.
During the registration period, you can submit only one entry. If you submit more than one, the surplus of entries will be disqualified as the US Department of States has a technology in place that detects it. Once you submit your entry, you will receive a confirmation number. It is essential that you keep it as without it you will not be able to check the status of your entry and find out whether.
How are successful applicants selected?
The selection of Diversity Immigrant Visa applicants is done randomly from all registered individuals based on visas available for each country. The results of the lottery are updated on, or sometimes around, May 7 on the Electronic Diversity Visa website.By visiting the Entrant Status Check section of the page, you will be able to check whether you have received the Green Card or not.
Visiting the Electronic Diversity Visa website is the only way to check the outcome of the lottery. Successful applicants will not be notified by mail or phone. If you have lost your confirmation number, you will not be able to find out whether your entry was selected or not.
If your entry is successful, you will be directed to a page that will include further instructions on what steps you need to undertake to come to the US.
What happens when my entry is selected?
If you check the lottery results and you find out that you are a winner, you can begin the process of applying for a Green Card. Your entry being selected does not mean that you can immediately enter the US. To adjust your immigration status and permanently move to the US, you need to first follow the following steps:
- Submit your visa application, using the DS Form 260
- Submit supporting documentation
- Schedule and prepare for the visa interview.
- Attend the interview
At the end of the last step of the process, the visa interview, an official will notify you whether your visa application is approved or denied. If your application is successful, you will be given the details about your visa. If your application is denied, the authorities will explain their decision.
What documents do I need to submit if I am selected?
Along with the application form you will need to submit to receive the Green Card, you will need to submit the following supporting documentation:
- A birth certificate issued by the official custodian of birth records in your home country.
- Court and prison records if you have previously been convicted of a crime
- Military records if you have served in the military forces
- Police certificates that cover the entire period of your residence in a certain area
- A photocopy of a valid passport.
Make sure you seek advice from an immigration lawyer when preparing the documents file as failure to include some of the required documents can delay your application.
How to prepare for the visa interview?
You should properly prepare for your visa interview. Otherwise, your application can be delayed or denied. To make sure you are ready for the interview, you should
- Check the information on the Electronic Diversity Visa website and note the date, time, and location of your interview.
- Check the interview instructions published by the US Embassy or Consulate where your interview will take place.
- Schedule a medical appointment with a physician and get all the required vaccinations.
- Get two passport size photographs.
When you come to the interview you will be required to present the following documents:
- Appointment confirmation that you can download and print from the Entrant Status Check section of the Electronic Diversity Visa website.
- Confirmation showing that you submitted the DS-260 form
- Evidence of required education
- A passport valid for at least six months after your planned entry into the US.
What are the Diversity Visa fees?
While entering the Diversity Visa Program is free, submitting the application to have your immigration status in the US adjusted is not. If your entry is selected and you want to proceed with the process of getting your US Green Card, you will have to pay the Diversity Visa fee of $330. This fee is non-refundable, even if your visa is not issued.
In most cases, you will have to pay the fee before the interview, but the payment procedures vary depending on your home country. Sometimes you might be required to pay the fee at the time of your interview. Make sure to check the website of the US Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying to find the specific instructions. If you are still unsure when to pay the fees, you can ask your immigration lawyer for advice, and they will explain the payment procedure to you.
You might also have to pay other fees associated with the application process, for example, fees for scheduling a medical exam or for receiving copies of required documents.
Can my family come to the US with me if I win the Diversity Visa Program?
If your entry is selected and you win a Green Card, your spouse and all unmarried children who are younger than 21 years of age will automatically receive Green Cards as well. If at the time of receiving the lottery results you are unmarried but you are in a relationship, you can get married before you submit the DS-260 Form to make your partner eligible for a Green Card.
The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that when submitting your entry you need to list all unmarried children under the age of 21. That includes both your own children and your spouse’s kids. The failure to do it will lead to you being disqualified from the lottery. Even if you do not intend to bring your children to the US, you must include them in the application.
While your unmarried children and your spouse will receive a Green Card if you win the Diversity Visa Program, the same does not apply to your parents or siblings. Nevertheless, once you are in the US, they will be able to apply for a family-based Green Card to come join you. To find out more about ways to bring your parents and siblings to the US, talk to our immigration lawyers.
How long does it take to get the Green Card after winning the lottery?
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The Green Card lottery, officially called the Diversity Visa Program, is a scheme that allows citizens of countries that have a low immigration rate to the US to receive a Green Card. The lottery is open each year for 4-5 weeks, usually in spring. The results of the lottery are announced several months later in May, and every year 50,000 immigrants can receive the Diversity Visas.
If an applicant is selected, they can begin the process of adjusting their immigration status in the US. They can also bring their spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 with them.
Anyone who is a citizen of a foreign country that has a historically low immigration rate to the US can enter the Green Card lottery for free. Submitting an entry does not cost anything. However, if you are selected, you will have to pay for adjusting your immigration status in the US.
Before you attend your visa interview, you will have to pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $330. The fee represents a cost per person, so if your spouse or children are also coming to the US, you will need to pay more.
The payment procedures vary depending on the country you reside in. To make sure you pay the fee at the right moment, contact the US Embassy or Consulate where your interview will take place and ask them for detailed instructions.