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What is the diversity lottery?

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program: Towson Immigration Law Firm

Each year the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) offers up to 50,000 immigrant visas, selected from a random drawing.  The DV Program, more commonly known as the diversity lottery or green card lottery, is available to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.  The U.S. Department of State oversees and administers the DV Program.  Most of the individuals selected through the diversity lottery are living outside of the United States at the time of the lottery, but every year there are a limited number of individuals who are already legally residing in the U.S. when they are selected as a lottery winner.

The Department of State explains that the visas awarded through the DV program are allocated among six geographic regions with no single country being permitted to receive more than seven percent of the diversity visas in any one year. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) calculates the regional diversity visa limits on an annual basis based on a formula set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Additionally, each year the Department of State provides a list of countries where natives are not eligible to apply to the DV Program because more than 50,000 native individuals of these countries immigrated to the U.S. in the previous five years.

All individuals who are selected via the DV Program lottery process must satisfy strict eligibility requirements in order to qualify for a diversity visa.  These requirements include having obtained at least a high-school education or the equivalent or have, within the past five years, at least two years of work experience in an occupation requiring a minimum of two years of training or experience.  Those occupations qualifying for the DV Program are based on designated job zones and can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor O*Net Online database.  If you have questions about qualifying occupations or general DV program eligibility requirements our Towson immigration law firm can help.

All DV Program selections are made through a randomized computer drawing and applicants can check the status of their entries on the Department of State DV Entrant Status Check site. The DV Entrant Status Check site is the only means by which an individual will be notified of their selection.  This site will also provide the instructions for your visa application along with your visa interview appointment date and time.  It is important to note that the DV Entrant Status Check site is the only way to determine if you have been selected:  The Department of State does not send any selection notifications by postal mail or by e-mail.

Beware of Fraud

The U.S. Department of State Office of Visa Services warns the public to be on the lookout for scammers advertising that you have been selected through the diversity lottery or that they can make it easier for you to enter the lottery.  These scammers often pose as the U.S. government and send emails or letters to DV program applicants in an attempt to extract money from them.  It is important to keep in mind that the Department of State will not send you a notification letter or email to let you know that you have been selected as a DV Program lottery winner.

The only way to find out if you are a successful entrant is by checking your status on the DV Entrant Status Check site.  Additionally, the U.S. government will not ask you to send any payments by check, wire transfer or money order:  all fees will be paid to the U.S. Embassy or consulate cashier when you have your scheduled visa appointment.

If you are concerned about a possible scam or have questions about the DV Program, we encourage you to contact our Towson immigration law firm.  We understand how the DV Program works and are prepared to help you through the process so that you can reach your immigration goals.