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I Have Been Selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery and Am in the United States. Should I Apply for Adjustment of Status with USCIS or Apply for a Green Card at the Consulate?

By June 21, 2018April 8th, 2021Immigration
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The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes up to 50,000 green cards available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). For more information about the DV Program and eligibility requirements, please click here.

Most lottery winners reside outside the United States and obtain their green cards through consular processing. When outside of the U.S., the applicant files by submitting a DS-260 form along with supporting documents, and attending an interview at the Consulate. If approved, the Consulate issues an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. and the green card is ultimately mailed to the applicant.

There are, however, a small number of lottery winners each year who, at the time of “winning the lottery,” are residing in the United States in a nonimmigrant or other legal status (e.g., F-1, E-2, H-1B, L-1). When residing inside the United States, the applicant has the choice of applying at the Consulate or filing an adjustment of status application with USCIS for the green card so that s/he does not have to leave the U.S.

One of the most critical factors is that the green card for diversity visa winners must be obtained by September 30 of the fiscal year the lottery pertains to. For example, people who applied for the Fiscal Year 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery in October 2017 and received notification of selection in May 2018 are eligible to apply ONLY during Fiscal Year 2019 (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019). DV selection cannot be carried over to the next fiscal year, so if the DV winner in the above example does not obtain a green card by September 30, 2019, s/he loses the opportunity to obtain a green card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program without entering and being selected in the lottery again.

What are the Benefits of Filing for Diversity Visa Adjustment of Status with USCIS?

The main benefit of filing for a DV-based green card via adjustment of status (AOS) in the United States is the convenience of remaining in the U.S. without having to be away from family or work for an extended period due to potentially long wait times at the consulate abroad. In addition, if the applicant has a visa number that is at the end of the queue, there are more options to compel the Government to adjudicate the application by September 30th.

What are the Benefits of Filing for a Diversity Visa Green Card at the Consulate?

Adjustment of status applications are more expensive than Consular processing and in some cases Consular processing may be faster. Speed may be an important factor if the applicant has a higher rank number and it is close to the end of the fiscal year by the time s/he is eligible to apply for a green card. However, as described above, the options to compel adjudication at a Consulate are limited.

What are Some Things I Can Do to Speed up Processing of My Diversity Visa Adjustment of Status Application with USCIS?

It is critical that the green card is issued by September 30th. Below are some options to consider as the date approaches:

  • Plan ahead and file on a timely basis. While it may be tempting to put things off, this could cost you the green card.
  • Beware of errors. Errors on your application can cause delays, which you cannot afford in the DV green card process.
  • Check in and follow up with USCIS. You may follow up upon filing the AOS application by calling the USCIS Contact Center or via an Infopass appointment.
  • Submit a congressional inquiry requesting expedited processing of your AOS application. A letter from your member of Congress can be very important if you are running out of time.
  • Sue in federal court. You can file a petition called a Mandamus petition which can speed up adjudication in cases like the DV AOS application.

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