What is the 2018 Diversity Lottery and can I apply for it now in 2016?

Congress made the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program to allow immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States a chance to obtain an immigrant visa, which would lead to permanent residency upon entry to the United States using that visa. For the United States fiscal year 2018, there will be 50,000 diversity immigrant visas available.

The lottery application period begins October 4, 2016 at noon using United States Eastern Daylight Time and ends at noon, November 7, 2016, using United States Eastern Standard Time.

This year, some native people of the following countries are not eligible to apply (but this may not be true for future years):

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, 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.

If you were not born in an eligible country, there are two other ways you might be able to qualify:

  1. Was your spouse born in a country whose natives are eligible? If yes, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth-provided that both you and your spouse are named on the selected entry, are found eligible for and issued diversity visas, and enter the United States simultaneously.
  2. Were you born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but in which neither of your parents were born or legally resident at the time of your birth? If yes, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the 2018 program.

Each applicant must also meet the education or work experience requirement, which are:

Do you have at least a high school education or its equivalent?

OR

Do you have at least two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform?

If you are from an eligible country and meet the other requirement, you may submit an application at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ during the October 4 to November 7 application period. The government is scheduled to list the people picked in the lottery beginning May 2, 2017.

There is no charge for the application. There is no need to pay a lawyer or any other type of person to help you submit the application to enter the lottery. However, if you are selected in the lottery, using a qualified immigration lawyer to help you the rest of the way is recommended because the paperwork and process must be properly completed in a short time-frame. If you do not complete the paperwork or process in a timely manner, you will not receive an immigrant visa to the United States.

If you have any questions regarding immigration, please feel free to call me, immigration attorney Shawn Mesa at (813) 679-5780.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any reliance on this information is taken at your own risk.

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