USCIS building SanFranciscoAn immigration visa allows you to enter the United States, apply for permanent residence, and perhaps gain U.S. citizenship. The United States provides many ways for people to obtain immigrant visas. One of these is the Diversity Visa program, or DV program, which distributes visas by holding an annual lottery.

Geographically Limited

The purpose of the DV program is to encourage immigration from countries that have not sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past five years. This number doesn't include tourists or other temporary entrants, and it doesn't include people admitted under special programs such as refugees or previous DV programs. Generally, you must have been born in an eligible country to qualify. Under certain circumstances, however, you may qualify if your spouse or one of your parents was born in an eligible country. Most of the world's countries are eligible.

Certain Requirements to Qualify

To enter the DV lottery, you must meet education or experience requirements. One way to qualify is to have completed high school or its equivalent in your country. The other way is to have at least two years of work experience during the past five years in a position that required at least two years of prior training or experience. In addition, you must be otherwise eligible to enter the U.S. under U.S. immigration law. For example, you can be denied entry for certain criminal offenses, for carrying certain infectious diseases, or for previous violations of U.S. immigration law.

Winning Is No Guarantee

To apply for the DV program, you must complete an application form and provide photographs. You can apply online, and there is no filing fee. The U.S. State Department will randomly select winners from all eligible applicants. If you win, you will be entered into a pool of finalists from which visa recipients are selected. Visa recipients will be selected from among the finalists until the yearly quota of 50,000 visas has been reached. If you are selected to receive a visa, you will have to fill out a visa application and pay the usual filing fee. You will also be able to get visas for your immediate family.

Beware of Lottery Scams

Some companies fraudulently pose as representatives of the U.S. government and try to charge you to enter the DV lottery. Some of these companies have established fraudulent websites that appear to represent the U.S. government. The State Department will never notify you of your status by email or surface mail. Instead, you must check the status of your application on the State Department website.

A Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding the diversity visa lottery is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an immigration lawyer.

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