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Each year, the U.S. State Department, through the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program, makes 50,000 immigrant visas available to people in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The program is administered in two phases. Beginning with the lottery, foreign nationals of eligible countries may submit entries for a random drawing. Every entry selected in the drawing is given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence (green card). Along with notification of their selection, lottery winners also receive further instructions and information on fees for the visa application and processing phase.

If you are selected among the winning entries, meet all qualification criteria, and successfully complete the visa application process, you are granted permanent residence (green card), authorizing you to live and work permanently in the United States, along with your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. The rules are generally simple yet strict.

In considering whether an individual’s work is in the national interest, the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU), in The Mississippi Phosphate Case, has suggested seven factors to be considered by the Immigration Service.
It is important to note that if you are selected as a winner in the lottery drawing, that does not automatically guarantee that you will be issued a visa, even if you qualify. This is because the number of entries selected by the National Visa Center generally exceeds the number of immigrant visas available, on the projection that not everyone selected will qualify for a visa or will choose to complete the visa application and processing phase.
The program effectively begins on the first day of the lottery and ends when all 50,000 visas allocated for the year have been issued, or on the last day of the State Department’s fiscal year, whichever comes first. Specific rules governing the program tend to vary from year to year and are published before the start of each year’s lottery.

Eligibility Requirements

You or your spouse must be a native of a country that is eligible to participate in the DV Lottery program. You may also be eligible, if either of your parents was born in a country that is eligible to participate.

You must have a high school diploma or equivalent, defined in the U.S. as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education. Alternatively, you must have two years of work experience within the preceding five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.

Cost of Entry, Application Fees

There is generally no cost for entry in the lottery. However, you must pay an immigrant visa fee and a separate visa lottery surcharge if you are selected among the winning entries and choose to complete the visa application process.

As such, the I-140 is immediately filed, rather than necessitating the lengthy (18 months in Ohio) labor certification process.

DV-2005

The entry period for the 2003 lottery, also called DV-2005, was November 1 through December 30, 2003. Further processing of lottery entries continues at the Kentucky Consular Center.
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