The Department of State has announced the procedures for the FY 2018 Visa Lottery, currently underway. Detailed information is available on the Department of State website at:
The Visa Lottery enables 50,000 individuals from most countries of the world an opportunity to obtain a green card provided they meet certain minimal qualifications. In addition, they must not be “excludable” from the U.S. as a result of such factors as criminal record, immigration violations, etc. For fiscal year 2018, 50,000 DVs will be available.
Applicants are chosen by a computer-generated random drawing after submitting a simple application and photograph via an online system established by the State Department. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the period of the past five years. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.
For DV-2018, natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply because the countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are also eligible.
For DV-2018, natives of Ecuador are now eligible to enter the program.
A “native” is a person born in a country, or entitled to be “charged to” the country under the rules of “alternate chargeability.” Under the rules of alternate chargeability, an alien applicant born in an ineligible country may “use”
• the country of birth of his or her spouse, if the alien applicant is married to a native of an eligible country-provided the spouse is eligible for a visa and will immigrate to the U.S. with the applicant; or
• the country of birth of either parent, if the alien applicant was born in a country in which neither of his or her parents had established a residence at the time of the applicant’s birth.
The spouse or children (a “child” is an unmarried person under 21 years of age) of a successful applicant will also be eligible for immigrant status, regardless of their place of birth.
If selected, applicants will be instructed to apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate in their country of residence. However, applicants who are in the U.S. will, in many cases, be eligible to adjust their status through a local Immigration office.
A successful applicant must prove that he or she has at least a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience during the past five years in a job which, according to the Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine database, requires at least two years of training or experience. An applicant must also establish that she/he meets the usual qualitative requirements for entry to the U.S. For example, an applicant with a criminal record may be barred.
Entries for the DV-2018 DV program began on noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 4, 2016, and will close at noon, EDT, Monday, November 7, 2016. Applicants must submit entries electronically during this registration period using the electronic DV entry form (E-DV) or DS-5501 at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Paper entries will not be accepted. We strongly encourage applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 7, 2016.
Beginning May 2, 2017, DV-2018 entrants will be able to use their unique confirmation number provided at registration to check online through Entry Status Check at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov to see if their entry was selected. Successful entrants will receive instructions for how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and their eligible family members. Confirmation of visa interview appointments will also be made through Entry Status Check.
We believe that anyone with access to the internet can complete the entry process without hiring an attorney or paying a fee to a third party, though it may be worthwhile for some individuals who are not computer savvy to pay a small fee to have someone assist them with the process. PAYMENT OF A FEE TO A THIRD PARTY WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF BEING SELECTED.
However, we strongly recommend that anyone selected in the lottery consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine the best course of action and to identify any issues which may derail their application for a green card.
Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions.