September 26, 2013

Annual Green Card Lottery Opens October 1, 2013

Holland & Knight Alert
Tara L. Vance | Neal N. Beaton

The U.S. Department of State's Diversity Visa 2015 Immigrant Visa Program (more commonly referred to as the Green Card Lottery) begins Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EDT and ends Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.

U.S. law authorizes 50,000 immigrant visas (green cards) to be available annually for "diversity immigrants." This is popularly referred to as a visa lottery since applicants are randomly chosen through a computer program among qualified applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

For the 2015 Green Card Lottery, nationals from the following countries are not eligible to apply, because more than 50,000 natives from these countries have immigrated to the United States during the past five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, 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 (special administrative region), Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.

How to Apply

Additional information and instructions for the submission of an application (which must be done electronically) can be found at the Department of State's website. The primary prerequisites are that the applicant has either a high school education or the foreign equivalent (defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education) or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.

The visa lottery in past years has been subject to many scams, some of which have involved false or misleading information about fees. There is no fee to apply and paying a third party a fee to file provides no benefit. Only one application may be submitted per applicant — duplicate applications will render the applicant ineligible.

An applicant who is chosen in the lottery is not guaranteed a green card, but he or she is given the opportunity, along with eligible family members, to apply for one and demonstrate eligibility.  

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