September 22, 2016
Immigration Law Alert
Author(s): Mary-Benham B. Nygren
Each year, 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through a Diversity Visa Lottery to people who are natives of countries (typically a person’s country of birth) with low rates of immigration to the United States. The State Department’s National Visa Center holds the lottery every year, and chooses winners randomly from all qualified entries.
Entries for this year’s Diversity Visa Lottery, for fiscal year 2018, must be submitted electronically between Tuesday, October 4, 2016, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-4), and Monday, November 7, 2016, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-5).
A lottery applicant who is selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery will be given the opportunity to then apply for permanent residence on his/her own behalf and on behalf of his/her spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21. Same-sex spouses are eligible for the same U.S. immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses.
If permanent residence is granted (i.e., the issuance of a “green card”) to a lottery winner, then the lottery winner will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. A “winner” can save his/her employer much time, money and aggravation by avoiding the normal green card process.
A lottery applicant must possess either a high school diploma or two years of qualifying work experience within the past five years.
Please note that spouses can each file a lottery application if they each meet the eligibility requirements independently. If one spouse is selected, both will be eligible for green cards, as will all of their minor children.
Applicants currently possessing H or L visas need not worry about concurrently stating immigrant and nonimmigrant intent. Applicants currently possessing other types of visas should review this issue carefully before applying for the lottery.
Natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply for permanent resident visas through the Diversity Visa Lottery: 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 eligible.
Foreign nationals eligible and interested in applying click here for additional information from the State Department on the Diversity Visa Lottery as well as for the Lottery Entry Form that needs to be completed online. There is no cost to register for the Diversity Visa Lottery (if selected, you must pay all required visa fees at the time of your application and interview).
The State Department has a Diversity Immigrant Visa Program Tutorial video to assist applicants in understanding the lottery process.
The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact your regular Nixon Peabody LLP representative. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.