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    Diversity Visa Program

    Are you looking for information on the Green Card Lottery?

    Are you trying to gain permanent residency in the United States through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card Lottery)?

    The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a U.S. congressionally-mandated lottery program for making the United States Permanent Resident Card available to a select number of foreign citizens. It is also known as the “Green Card Lottery.”

    Every year, the U.S. Department of State randomly selects immigrants from around the world to receive green cards to enter the U.S. These classes of immigrants are known as “diversity immigrants.” Congress implemented this Diversity Immigrant Visa Program2 to make diversity visas available to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. No more than 55,000 Diversity Visas, or DVs, are granted each year.

    The Green Card Lottery is extremely popular throughout the world. Over 13.6 million applications for the 2008 Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery (DV-2010) were submitted — an increase of 50% over the previous year (most recent data available at the time of publication).

    The Visa Lottery Program applies to a limited number of countries. More visas go to regions with lower rates of immigration to the U.S., and no visas are granted to countries that have had more than 50,000 immigrants come to the U.S. over the last five years. In other words, nationals from some countries—such as India, China, and the Philippines—are not eligible for the Visa Lottery Program since they generally have high rates of immigration to the U.S. each year. No one country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year for each region.

    HOW DOES THE VISA LOTTERY PROGRAM WORK?

    Each year, a random lottery drawing is computer-generated to select diversity visas from six geographic regions. For every registration period, only one entry is allowed for each applicant. Any duplication or multiple entries disqualifies the individual from registration for this program. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that a claimant will be granted a diversity visa, even with a proper filing of the application.

    WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE VISA LOTTERY PROGRAM?

    The two main requirements for the Visa Lottery Program are that the foreign national is from a qualifying visa lottery country and that the foreign national has the requisite education or work experience.

    Visa Lottery Countries: If you are a native of one of the countries listed in the following section (see chart below), you may apply for a diversity visa if you also meet the education or work experience requirements. Being a native usually means the country where you were born; however, there are two other ways to qualify. First, if the country you were born in is not eligible for this program, but your spouse was born in a country that allows, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth; however, you must both be on the DV entry form. The second way is if your birth country does not qualify for a diversity visa and neither of your parents was born in that country or lived there when you were born, you can claim the birth country of one of your parents if that country is eligible for the program.

    WHAT COUNTRIES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE VISA LOTTERY PROGRAM?

    AFRICA Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

    *Persons born in the areas administered before June 1967 by Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt are chargeable, respectively, to Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Persons born in the Gaza Strip are chargeable to Egypt; persons born in the West Bank are chargeable to Jordan; persons born in the Golan Heights are chargeable to Syria.

    **In Africa, natives of Nigeria are not eligible for this year’s diversity program.

    ASIA Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

    *Persons born in the areas administered before June 1967 by Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt are chargeable, respectively, to Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Persons born in the Gaza Strip are chargeable to Egypt; persons born in the West Bank are chargeable to Jordan; persons born in the Golan Heights are chargeable to Syria.

    **Natives of the following Asia Region countries are not eligible for this year’s diversity program: Bangladesh, China (mainland-born), India, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines, and Vietnam. Hong Kong S.A.R. (Asia region), Macau

    EUROPE Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (including components and dependent areas overseas), Estonia, Finland, France (including component and areas overseas), Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau Special Administrative Region, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands (including components and dependent areas overseas), Norway, Poland, Portugal (including component and dependent areas overseas), Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vatican City.

    *Natives of the following European countries are not eligible for this year’s DV program: Great Britain (United Kingdom). Great Britain (United Kingdom) includes the following dependent areas: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Note that for purposes of the diversity program only, Northern Ireland is treated separately. Northern Ireland does qualify and is listed

    NORTH AMERICA The Bahamas

    *In North America, natives of Canada and Mexico are not eligible for this year’s diversity program.

    OCEANIA Australia (including components and dependent areas overseas), Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand (including component and dependent areas overseas), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Samoa.
    SOUTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

    * Countries in this region whose natives are not eligible for this year’s diversity program: Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and Peru.

    For DV-2022, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

    Taiwan and Macau have been added to the list as well of those who can apply as well.

    WHAT IS THE EDUCATION OR WORK EXPERIENCE REQUIRED TO QUALIFY FOR THE DV VISA?

    To enter the DV program, you must also have either a high school education or its equivalent; or two years of work experience—within the past five years—in an occupation that requires training or experience for at least two years to perform. A “high school education or its equivalent” means the successful completion of both elementary and secondary education. Equivalency certificates, such as a G.E.D., are not acceptable. The qualifying work experience is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online database. A sample list of acceptable occupations is included in Appendix 7. Please visit the U.S. Department of Labor O*net site for a complete list.

    HOW DO I ENTER THE VISA LOTTERY PROGRAM?

    To get into the visa lottery program, visit www.dvlottery.state.gov and follow the instructions very carefully. As mentioned above, for every registration period, only one entry is allowed for each applicant. Any duplication or multiple entries in a given year disqualifies the individual from registration for this program.

    HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE BEEN SELECTED?

    Applicants will receive notification by regular mail, not electronic mail, between May and July of the following year after their DV Online Entry. After you have been notified, the U.S. Department of State will send more information and instructions. Those applicants who are not selected will not be notified at all.

    IF I HAVE A VISA FROM ANOTHER VISA CATEGORY, CAN I STILL APPLY FOR THE DV PROGRAM?

    Yes, you can still apply for the DV program, regardless of any other visa you might hold.

    IF I AM ALREADY PRESENT IN THE U.S., CAN I STILL APPLY FOR THE VISA LOTTERY PROGRAM?

    Yes. You can apply for the visa lottery program if you are already present in the U.S. Applications for the visa lottery program can be submitted from the U.S. or abroad.

    CAN I BRING MY FAMILY ALONG IF I AM SELECTED TO RECEIVE A DIVERSITY VISA?

    Yes. You can bring your spouse and unmarried children under twenty-one (21), although they are not required to accompany you to the U.S. if you are selected.

    CONCLUSION

    The Visa Lottery Program may be an excellent option for you if your ultimate goal is to settle in the United States and you do not qualify for one of the other visa categories. Suppose you belong to a country that qualifies under the Visa Lottery Program and have the requisite educational or work experience. In that case, you should continue to apply each year for the Visa Lottery Program to increase your odds of getting chosen for a diversity visa.

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