In an unexpected move after President Trump announced last year that he would eliminate the program, the US Department of State published instructions for the entry process to the Diversity Visa 2020 (DV-2020) immigration program.
A section in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for the issuance of a limited number of visas every fiscal year to a certain class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants”—foreign nationals from countries with usually low rates of immigration to the United States. The Diversity Visa program makes use of a lottery system in issuing 50,000 of such visas, all of which lead to lawful permanent resident status.
While registration to the program is free, those looking to apply have strict eligibility requirements to meet.
- The government requires applicants or one’s spouse to have been born in a country eligible for the diversity program, with neither parent being a legal resident in an ineligible country when the applicant was born.
- Applicants must have at least had a high school education or an equivalent secondary education. This can be substituted by two years of work experience in an occupation that normally requires two years of training or prior experience.
Individuals who meet these requirements must apply for selection on the DV Lottery website: www.dvlottery.state.gov as paper applications will not be entertained. After this first stage, applicants are advised to prepare for added fees that come with the application process.s
This year’s DV-2020 program opened on October 3, 2018 and will close at noon on November 6, 2018. The lottery system comes in at the end of the application period. The system randomly selects applicants who will proceed to applying for the visa. Those selected must check the statuses of their applications online.
Countries from which over 50,000 immigrants have come to the US in the past five years are immediately classified as ineligible for the DV program. These include Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Mainland China, Colombia, the Dominic Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
Individuals that have been present in the United States without lawful status for over 180 days (or the “unlawful presence” mark) are not advised to apply for the lottery. Undocumented lottery winners must be processed for a visa at a US consulate abroad, but because of their undocumented status, leaving the country will trigger a 3- to 10-year ban, making them ineligible for a visa.
If you want to learn more about the visa lottery program and the most recent changes affecting the system, we encourage you to talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices at (512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.