Diversity Lottery Is Open: Questions on the Diversity Visa

Today is an important date for many individuals hoping to immigrate to the United States. October 3rd marks the first day that applicants can register for the 2020 Diversity Lottery. Despite being the source of some debate, and vast criticism by the current administration, the Diversity Lottery, officially called the Diversity Lottery Visa Program, will begin accepting applications for Green Cards in 2020.

Registration continues through November 6, 2018, and 50,000 Green Cards available for foreign nationals with the right eligibility requirements and a bit of luck. However, it is possible that this will be the last enrollment period for the Diversity Lottery, as the President has promised to only sign an immigration bill that eliminates this important path to legal residency in the United States.

In this post, our team at Greco Neyland will answer several questions about the Diversity Lottery and the future of the program.

#1: What Is the Diversity Lottery?

The Diversity Lottery Program was created under the Immigration Act of 1990. The program’s goal is to offer an immigration path to individuals from countries with a historically low number of immigrants to the United States. Individuals selected in the lottery are given an immigration visa called a Diversity Visa. As the Diversity Visa is a permanent visa, it amounts to a Green Card in the United States.

The Department of State is responsible for administering the Diversity Lottery, which is truly a lottery program. Registrants submit their information to the lottery system and applicants are chosen at random for approval and receipt of a Diversity Visa.

#2: How Many People Register for the Diversity Lottery?

Historically, the Diversity Lottery Program has been incredibly popular across several countries. There are estimates that anywhere between 10 million and 20 million people register each year. That makes the process extremely competitive, and it is imperative that an individual submit a complete registration packet with the assistance of an immigration lawyer. Of the roughly 10 million registrants expected for 2020, only 100,000 are randomly selected in a lottery format. Then upon review of these 100,000 registrants, 50,000 are awarded Green Cards.

#3: What Countries Are Permitted in the Diversity Lottery?

The countries admitted to the Diversity Lottery Program touch nearly all corners of the globe, with applications from African, Asian, South American, Latin American, and European Countries permitted. In fact, the list of permitted countries is long enough that it is easier to list the ineligible countries, which include Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Mexico, Jamaica, Peru, Philippines, and South Korea. Many European countries are also excluded from the Diversity Lottery Program.

As a lottery system, the 100,000 registrants selected for vetting come from all parts of the world at random. However, no country is permitted more than 7% of total applications, which is 3,500 Green Cards. In some years, a single country does approach this number with over 3,000 Green Cards awarded to nationals from Uzbekistan in 2014 and a large number of people from Nigeria, Ukraine, and Ghana registering for the program between 2012 and 2015.

#4: What Is the Vetting Process for the Diversity Lottery?

Once the lottery is over, all registrants selected from the lottery are subjected to the same rigorous requirements as other applicants for permanent residency. The vetting process is strict and becoming more intense in the past two years. Having a criminal record, prior immigration violations or domestic abuse allegations will disqualify a registrant, as will other information appearing on a background check. Anyone that is selected for vetting should speak with an immigration lawyer about the process and mandatory interview.

#5: How to Register for the Diversity Lottery in 2020?

Registration is now open for the Diversity Lottery of 2020. Registrants have until November 6, 2018, to submit their paperwork and lottery form. This can be done online through the Department of State’s Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery. There are specific procedural restrictions.

First, every registrant must fully complete the lottery form and properly submit it online. Second, a registrant can only submit an entry once. Together these requirements mandate that an application for the 2020 Diversity Lottery must be completed correctly in the initial application. There are no “do-overs” for the Diversity Lottery Program.

To apply you need certain information and documentation, including a recent, passport size photo and a valid passport. You should also consider the advice and assistance of an immigration lawyer in California. Legal assistance will ensure you correctly and properly submit your lottery entry and are prepared to pass the vetting process, should you be selected in the lottery.

To speak with a California immigration lawyer about the Diversity Lottery Program, the entry deadlines, and lottery process contact our team at Greco Neyland. Simply call (213) 295-3500.

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