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Department of State Releases How to Apply for 2020 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

On September 25, 2018, the Department of State (DOS) released a public notice with information on how to apply for the 2020 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. DOS annually administers the statutorily mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For the year 2020, 50,000 diversity visas will be available. There is no cost to register for the program. 
Applicants who are selected in the lottery must meet simple, but strict, eligibility requirements to qualify for the diversity visa. DOS determines selectees through a randomized computer drawing. Diversity visa numbers are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than 7 percent of the available diversity visas in one year. 
For DV-2020, natives of the following countries are NOT able to apply because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the U.S. in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Columbia, 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 Hon Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible. 
Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • Requirement #1: Individuals born in countries whose natives qualify may be eligible to enter. 
    • 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 DV’s, and enter the U.S. simultaneously. 
      2. Were you born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but in which neither of your parents were born or legally resided at the time of your birth? If yes, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents – provided that one of your parents was born in a country whose natives are eligible for the DV 2020 program.
  • Requirement #2: Each applicant must meet the education/work experience requirement of the DV program by having either at least a high school education or its equivalent OR two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform. 

Applicants must submit entries for the DS-2020 program electronically at between noon EDT Wednesday, October 3, 2018 and noon EDT Tuesday, November 6, 2018. DOS recommends not waiting until the last week of the registration period to enter as heavy demand may result in website delays. No late entries or paper entries will be accepted. Only one entry per person during each registration period is allowed. 
Entrants can check their status at the website noted above beginning May 7, 2019 through September 30, 2020. If your entry is selected, you will be directed to a confirmation page that will provide further instructions. Checking your status online will be the ONLY way to confirm if you were selected. DOS will not mail out notification letters or notify selectees by email. 
In order to immigrate, selectees must be admissible to the U.S. The DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application will then need to be completed electronically and the consular officer at the final interview will determine eligibility based on security and criminal-related questions. All eligible selectees must be issued visas by September 30, 2020. Under no circumstances can the DOS issue DVs or approve adjustments after this date. 
If you have questions on the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, please contact our office to schedule a consult with one of our attorneys today!