The U.S. State Department (DOS) has announced that it will begin accepting applications under the FY 2018 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program – also known as the “Diversity Visa Lottery” or “DV Lottery” – from individuals seeking U.S. permanent residence (i.e. green card). DOS will accept applications for green cards under this program beginning Tuesday, October 4, 2016, through Monday, November 7, 2016.
The DV lottery allows eligible people born in countries with historically low immigration levels to apply for one of 50,000 green cards that are made available through the program each year and awarded via a randomized computer drawing.
Persons born in the following countries are not eligible to apply for DV visas in FY 2018: 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.
Even if a person was not born in an eligible country, they might still qualify if their spouse was born in an eligible country or if they were born in country in which neither of their parents was born or legally resident. In such cases, the applicant may claim the spouse or a parent’s country of birth for purposes of DV lottery eligibility.
In addition, each applicant must meet the educational/work experience requirements. An eligible applicant must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent (i.e. 12 combined years of elementary and secondary education), or two years of experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience. DOS will use the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET database to determine whether a particular applicant’s work experience qualifies.
Applications for the DV lottery must be completed and submitted through the DOS website and will only be accepted during the registration period. Late entries and paper entries will not be accepted. In addition, there is a limit of one entry per person, and DOS uses sophisticated data mining technology to detect multiple entries. Individuals who submit multiple applications will have all of their entries disqualified.
Once an entry has been submitted, applicants can begin checking the status of their application on May 2, 2017.
If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing a green card through the DV lottery program, please contact us.
The State Department has released the October 2016 Visa Bulletin listing the priority dates eligible for “Application Final Action,” i.e. when an I-485 adjustment of status (AOS) application may be approved or an immigrant visa (IV) issued, and the priority dates eligible for “Filing Applications,” i.e. when an AOS or IV application may be filed.
Despite high hopes that the new fiscal year would bring more significant advancements in priority dates, the advancements in the October Visa Bulletin are mostly moderate to small.
The “Application Final Action Dates” in the family-based categories will advance at least a few weeks with the largest jump being in the F4 category (Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens), which will move forward nearly two years to December 1, 2002.
There will be some larger advances in the “Dates for Filing” in the family-based categories, highlighted by a full year advance to January 1, 2011, in the F1 category (Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens) for all countries except Mexico and the Philippines. The F1 date for Mexico will move ahead two months, while the date for the Philippines will move ahead five months. In addition, the F-4 date for filing for nationals of the Philippines will advance nearly nine months to April 1, 1994. The advances are counterbalanced, however, by stagnant dates in most of the other categories.
In the employment-based categories, there is mostly positive movement in the “Application Final Action Dates.” The EB-1 category will again become current for nationals of India and China, after having retrogressed in August. There will also be significant forward movement in the EB-2 category, as the final action date will advance to February 15, 2012, for nationals of China and January 15, 2007, for nationals of India, and will become current for all other countries.
In the EB-3 category, the final action date for nationals of China will advance over three years to January 22, 2013, and five months for nationals of the Philippines. The EB-3 “Application Final Action Dates” will advance a few weeks for all other countries.
The employment-based “Dates for Filing” are especially disappointing for Chinese and Indian nationals, as the EB-2 and EB-3 dates will retrogress between three months and one year. There is good news for nationals of the Philippines as the EB-3 date for filing will advance nine months to September 1, 2013.
The October Visa Bulletin also provides guidance regarding the expiration of two categories: the non-minister special immigrant program and the Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5), which will expire on September 30, 2016. Those categories are “unavailable” for final action as of those dates and continuing into October 2016, unless Congress acts to extend those programs.
Finally, a reminder that the “Dates for Filing Applications” are valid only for consular processing immigrant visa applications unless USCIS has stated that it will allow AOS filings consistent with that chart. USCIS will post the current acceptable charts on its website shortly after the release of the monthly visa bulletin. At the time of publication of this post, USCIS has not made any determination yet concerning the October 2016 Visa Bulletin.
You can view the visa bulletin in its entirety below. Please contact us with any questions.
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