Each year, the U.S. government runs a Diversity Visa (or green card lottery) in which 50,000 people from certain countries can win a chance to apply for a green card and immigrate to the U.S. This blog post will discuss some common questions that come up during the application process.
When can I apply for a Diversity Visa green card?
The government opens the diversity visa lottery every year around October to nationals of certain countries. You should check the most recent instructions on the Department of State website as to nationals of which countries can apply and to also check the timeline when exactly will the lottery open.
When and how do I find out I was selected in the Diversity Visa lottery?
You will need to check the status of your entry on the following website. You will generally be able to find out whether you were selected in May of the next year after your entry was submitted (e.g. if you submitted an entry in October 2020, you would be able to find out in May 2021).
Is the DV lottery based on the country of birth or country of citizenship?
The Diversity Visa lottery is based on your country of birth. The Department of State updates the list of countries that can participate in the lottery each year, so you should check the most recent list before you apply.
Can I include my spouse and children on my application?
Yes, you can include your spouse and children (unmarried and under the age of 21 on your application) and they will be able to apply for the green card with you. Please note that if you forget to list them on the application (e.g. you were married at the time you submitted the entry but you did not list your spouse on the entry), you and your dependents will not be eligible to apply for the green card.
Am I eligible for a DV lottery green card?
You should review the eligibility instructions when you apply to see if you qualify. Please also see our blog post on what are some general eligibility requirements general eligibility requirements for a DV lottery green card here.
When does the Diversity Visa petitions have to be adjudicated by?
All DV green card petitions have to be adjudicated before September 30 of the next year after your entry was selected. For example, if you were selected in May 2020, your petition would have to be adjudicated before September 2021.
Can I apply for the green card immediately after I find out I was selected?
If you are selected in the Diversity Visa lottery, you will be assigned a rank number. You will then have to check the government’s visa bulletin every month to see if your rank number is current – once it is you will be able to apply for the green card. If you will be adjusting your status in the U.S., you can file the petition as your number Is lower that the cut off number in the visa bulletin.
Should I do Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status?
If you live outside the U.S. at the time you will be applying for the green card, you will need to apply for the green card through Consular Processing.
If you live in the U.S. at the time you will be applying for the green card (e.g. you live here on an H-1B or L-1 visa), then you have 2 options: (i) Adjust your status in the U.S., (ii) apply for the green card at a U.S. Consulate abroad through Consular Processing.
We generally recommend to file an adjustment of status in the U.S. if your rank number is high (meaning that you are only eligible to file the Adjustment of status quite close to the September deadline), as if you are adjusting status in the U.S., you have more options on how you could speed up the process compared to if you are applying for a visa at a Consulate. Additionally, COVID-19 pandemic caused substantial backlogs at Consulates worldwide, so if you are in the U.S., adjustment of status may be a better option.
We recently had a case when the client tried to first apply for the green card through Consular Processing and he then reached out to us and we submitted his Adjustment of Status petition in June, and it got approved in August. Some tips on how you can get the case adjudicated faster:
- Submit an expedite request to USCIS
- Get in touch with your local USCIS field office
- Contact your local Congressman and ask them to assist you with expediting the case
Please see our blog post that goes over the differences of applying at a Consulate/USCIS here.
I got my immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate. When do I need to enter the U.S.?
If you obtained your immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad, you will usually have 6 months to enter the U.S. You should pay the green card fee when you are abroad but you will only receive the green card once you are in the U.S.
How long will the green card be valid for?
If you get the green card, it will be usually valid for 10 years.
When can I apply for a citizenship?
You will be able to apply for a U.S. citizenship within 90 day period of the 5th year anniversary of your green card.
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