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Lottery For Visas To Meet U.S. Diversity Goals

Portions of the content on this page can be found as public information on the USCIS website.

Diversity Visa

David Hirson & Partners, LLP, advises people who are interested entering the U.S. legally through the Diversity Visa lottery program.

Pursuant to 22 CFR 42.33, the Diversity Immigration Program (also known as the “visa lottery”), 55,000 immigrant visas are available each year to nationals of countries from which there have historically been low levels of immigration to the United States.

Foreign nationals born in countries that are determined to have low levels of immigration to the United States can submit an entry to the visa lottery through the U.S. Department of State website. There is no fee to enter the lottery and the Department of State only allows each person to submit one entry.

If selected, an applicant must be able to establish that he or she has a minimum of high school education or has been employed in a professional capacity for at least two years. Dependents of the selected foreign national (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) are also eligible to apply for permanent resident status.

Foreign nationals born in “high admission” countries are, in most instances, not eligible for the program. Each year, USCIS adds the family and employment immigrant admission figures for the previous five years, to identify the countries that must be excluded from the annual diversity lottery. Since there is a separate determination made prior to each lottery entry period, the list of countries that do not qualify is subject to change each year.

The window for filing a lottery application generally falls in October and November of the prior fiscal year. Those selected in the diversity visa lottery must obtain U.S. permanent residence within the fiscal year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery or they cannot complete the permanent resident process.

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