Law Offices of Stuart J. Reich, PLLC

Practice Limited to Immigration & Nationality Law

11 Broadway, Suite 615
New York, NY 10004

(212) 430-6582 phone
(212) 430-6583 facsimile

The Diversity Visa Lottery

Q: What is the Diversity Visa Lottery?

A: 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.

Q: How do I know if I am eligible for the DV Lottery?

A: 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.

Q: Do I need an attorney to process my initial DV Lottery application?

A: 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.

Q: My spouse and I are from the same DV Lottery-eligible country - can we both apply for the DV Lottery?

A: Yes, you may both apply separately.

Q: Does winning the DV Lottery mean that I will automatically get a green card?

A: 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.

Contact us here to arrange a consultation, to inquire about retaining us to handle your immigration matter, or simply to suggest topics you would like to see covered on our site.

The above is presented for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship with our firm. The information provided should not be used as guidance in pursuing an immigration matter absent consultation with a qualified immigration attorney.