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Diversity Visa Lottery - Fiscal Year 2015

September 26, 2013

The diversity visa lottery is one of the least commonly understood methods for obtaining U.S. legal permanent residence. In contrast to the more common family-based and employment-based procedures, the diversity visa allows citizens of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. to apply for legal permanent residence without a U.S. petitioning sponsor. For the 2015 fiscal year, the Department of State will make available 50,000 immigrant visas through this program.

As its name implies, the diversity visa lottery is, in fact, a lottery. Citizens of eligible countries submit their entries electronically during a one-month period in the autumn. The electronic entries are then vetted for eligibility and, beginning on May 1, the Department of State begins randomly selecting lottery entries on a rolling basis. Selected entrants, as well as his or her spouse and dependent children, have until September 30 of the following calendar year to complete the immigrant process. Notably, more entries are selected than the number of visas available; accordingly, an entrant who is selected must act quickly to increase his or her chances of completing the process within the required time frame and while visas are still available.

Historically, visa lottery entrants have been the target of numerous scams. Lottery entrants can obtain official information about the lottery through the Department of State. There are no costs or fees associated with registering for the lottery.

The registration period for the 2015 lottery is about to open. Entrants may register online for the diversity visa beginning on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12 noon (EDT) and must register by no later than Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12 noon (EDT). To be eligible to register, the person must be a citizen of an eligible country and also have a high school education (or its equivalent) or two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation requiring at least two years' training or experience.

For the 2015 Fiscal Year lottery, registration will be open to citizens of all countries EXCEPT the following:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born)*, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

* Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible to register for the 2015 Fiscal Year lottery.

Registrants to the 2015 Fiscal Year lottery will be able to check the status of their entries beginning on May 1, 2014 and, if selected, must complete the immigrant process between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, and while visas are still available.

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