The US State Department has announced the start of registration for the DV-2015 Visa Lottery program. Visas will be available for processing between October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. This means that all selected applicants must receive their visas no later than September 30, 2015. This Diversity Visa Lottery allocates up to 50,000 visas to individuals and their dependents from countries with low immigration rates to the US. The registration process will begin October 1, 2013 at noon EST and will end on November 2, 2013 at noon EST. Registration is done electronically (“E-DV”) at www.dvlottery.state.gov. (Note, if you go online to this site prior to October 1, 2013, you will only see information for the most recent lottery already held for DV-2014, not the upcoming DV-2015 mentioned above.) If rejected in the lottery, applicants will not be notified. However, applicants can begin checking status to see if selected beginning May 1, 2014 by logging onto the site above. Selected winners of the lottery will be notified by the US State Department via email.
Ineligible Countries And Exceptions
For DV-2015, applicants must have been be born in any country EXCEPT the following countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. (Nigeria is newly added to the exceptions list from years past). Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan remain eligible.
Besides having been born in a qualifying country, there are two other ways to qualify if not born in a qualifying country:
1. Having spouses born in a qualifying country so that if they are selected, you can be cross-charged to their country of birth. You and your spouse must both be listed on the registration, and it is recommended that you both apply. This year, of course, same-sex spouses may participate in the DV Lottery as a result of the US Supreme Court’s decision in June 2013 in the Windsor case.
2. Having been born in a country that is not qualifying but having been born to parents who were born in qualifying countries.
The State Department elaborates on these two exceptions to not being born in a qualifying country as follows:
There are two circumstances in which you still might be eligible to apply. First, if your derivative spouse was born in an eligible country, you may claim chargeability to that country. As your eligibility is based on your spouse, you will only be issued a DV – 1 immigrant visa if your spouse is also eligible for and issued a DV – 2 visa. Both of you must enter the United States together using your DVs. Similarly, your minor dependent child can be “charged” to a parent’s country of birth.
Second, you can be “charged” to the country of birth of either of your parents as long as neither of your parents was born in or a resident of your country of birth at the time of your birth. People are not generally considered residents of a country in which they were not born or legally naturalized, if they were only visiting, studying in the country temporarily, or stationed temporarily for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government from a different country other than the one in which you were born. If you claim alternate chargeability through either of the above, you must provide an explanation on the E-DV Entry Form, in question #6. Listing an incorrect country of eligibility or chargeability (i.e., one to which you cannot establish a valid claim) may disqualify your entry.
Web-Based Registration, Selection and Visa Applications
The entire process will be web-based only. Starting May 1, 2014, entrants may enter their DV-2015 entry confirmation number into the Entrant Status Check, available at www.dvlottery.state.gov, to find out whether their entry was selected or not. Subsequently, selected individuals who respond to the notification instructions provided on the E-DV selectee confirmation page on Entrant Status Check will also receive notification of their scheduled immigrant visa appointment through Entrant Status Check. Detailed instructions can be found here.
Only one entry per individual will be permitted! The government has a method to electronically verify that individuals are not gaming the system. More than one registration by the same individual will cause disqualification.
Education/Work Experience Requirement
Applicants must have at least a high school education or equivalent, or have completed two years of work experience in an occupation that normally requires at least two years of experience to perform the job. See qualifying occupations.
Making application online is FREE! Beware of any website that is not the official government visa lottery website (www.dvlottery.state.gov) that charges a fee to register. However, only after the lottery selection, will you later be charged for visa application fees during the State Department’s processing of your actual immigrant visa.
Getting Help or Advice
It is highly suggested that applicants print out a copy of their registration to keep for their files. While applicants can receive help from attorneys and others, keep in mind that the actual registration itself does not involve a government filing fee. Since all the normal rules apply to visa eligibility, grounds of inadmissibility, etc., it is suggested that applicants who are not sure of their eligibility seek legal advice from a licensed US immigration attorney or someone authorized by the Board of Immigration Appeals who may provide legal advice about immigration eligibility. Prospective applicants should be on heightened alert for scams.
Because immigration is a complex area, merely being selected in the visa lottery does not guarantee success in getting a visa. Especially if applicants have a history of prior visits to the US with visa or entry violations, criminal histories, fraud or other problems, getting specific advice about eligibility is highly recommended. In addition, the immigration of children and being able to preserve their age under the Child Status Protection Act can be complicated. If after reviewing the government’s FAQs you still have questions, contact our Seattle immigration law office of Bonnie Stern Wasser, where we are available to provide consultations and assistance with the DV visa lottery program eligibility and related issues.