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The Diversity Visa Lottery (“DV Lottery”) is a lottery used to distribute immigrant visas allocated under the Diversity Visa program. This program distributes a set amount of immigrant visas to individuals from countries which are underrepresented overall in applications for U.S. permanent residence. If you were born in a country which has few citizens applying for U.S. “green cards” relative to high-immigration countries such as China, India, or the Philippines for example, you may be eligible to apply for the DV Lottery. Further, only those with certain occupations/jobs, and with two years of experience or a high school education, will qualify.
There is some slight variation in the countries listed as eligible from year to year. The best way to find out is to read the information available at the U.S. State Department’s web site to determine eligibility.
Frankly, no – at least not for the lottery application itself. The application process is a fairly simple one, and a straightforward means to apply online has been available in recent years. While we can certainly assist you if you wish, it really isn’t necessary to retain a lawyer to submit your application through the DV lottery. However, if a foreign national wins the DV Lottery, he or she will need to apply for either Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence if in the U.S., or Consular Processing if not in the U.S. There are strict timetables for these applications, and in many cases elements of a person’s background or personal history can make the applications complicated. In these circumstances, it is extremely helpful to have an attorney process the application.
Yes, you may both apply separately.
No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a foreign national who wins the DV Lottery is guaranteed a green card. Once a foreign national wins the DV Lottery, the Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing application must be completed by the end of the fiscal year (September 30) of that lottery cycle. Even if the Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing application is filed in time, failure of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to complete processing in time will cause the application to fail. Further, a foreign national without valid status in the U.S. has the same problems here as he or she would with any other type of application: without status, the case cannot be processed through Adjustment of Status in the U.S. and the act of leaving to process through the embassy or consulate abroad would subject the individual to the three- or ten-year bars. Finally, circumstances which would prevent Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing through some other basis – any circumstances which would render the foreign national inadmissible – would still apply here.