The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or so-called Green Card Lottery, gives a chance to millions of foreigners to receive a U.S. Green Card just by applying through USCIS.
There is no fee to enter the lottery and you can apply through www.dvlottery.state.gov. According to the Department of State, in 2010 there were approximately 50,000 Green Cards distributed throughout the entire world as part of the Green Card Lottery. The immigrant visas are drawn randomly among the entries.
The USCIS outlines a few requirements to enter the lottery if you are outside the U.S. You must establish that:
- You are born in a qualifying country (the natives of countries such as Mexico, Canada, United Kingdom, and some others are not eligible); and
- You have at least a high school diploma/its equivalent, or work experience that requires training.
If you are currently living in the United States and have a non-immigrant visa, the Diversity Visa lottery may allow you to apply for a Green Card. If you are already residing in the United States, to adjust your status under the Diversity Visa program, you must establish the following:
- You received mail for a diversity visa from the Department of State, which has a barcode of your selection;
- An immigrant visa should be available for you as part of an adjustment of status application; and
- You are admissible to the United States.
Winning the Green Card Lottery does not mean that you will receive the Green Card in the mail. What it means is that you are selected to submit the documents for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to review. Once you file your immigrant visa application, you will have to pay a fee in person at a U.S. embassy if you are outside the United States. If you are inside the United States, a Diversity Immigrant-based application cannot be granted until a visa becomes available. In any case, the review of the application takes additional time.
Once you are the winner of the Diversity Visa lottery and submit the documents with USCIS, the last step of the process is the interview. After the interview with a consular or USCIS officer, you will know whether your application has been approved or denied.
At first glance, this process seems easy and straightforward. However, there is absolutely no guarantee of you winning the lottery. Besides, winning the lottery is just a part of the larger immigration process. The application for the immigrant visa itself is complex. One small mistake can result in USCIS or a U.S. embassy denying your application. According to some statistics, almost 40% of such applicants are denied due to errors like listing the wrong family status or submitting a photo that does not meet the requirements. Moreover, immigration authorities may reject visa applications without any explanation.
The Green Card Lottery is one of the opportunities to achieve the American Dream. Some people do whatever it takes to do it. However, everyone entering the lottery should be mindful of the scamming websites. Keep in mind, the U.S. government never sends out emails claiming that you are selected for the lottery. Instead, the U.S. government mails a letter with a special barcode to track your entry. Also, the lottery entry is free and can be done online only at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/.
In dealing with the immigrant visa application and further steps in the immigration process after winning the lottery, it is highly recommended to consult with an immigration attorney and ensure that your application is completed and submitted correctly.