What is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a program that is run by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program). This program provides up to 50,000 visas for immigrants each year. The visas are drawn from a random selection among all the entries and granted to individuals who are from countries that typically see low rates of immigration to the United States. The majority of diversity visa lottery winners live outside the U.S. and immigrate through consular processing and by receiving an immigrant visa.

Some visa lottery winners, however, reside in the U.S. at the time of “winning the lottery.” These individuals are living in the U.S. with a nonimmigrant or other legal status, which means USCIS is required to process an adjustment of their status application. Those applicants who are living in the U.S. when they win must establish that they have been selected to win the visa lottery and have an immigrant visa immediately available at the time of requesting an adjustment application.

Immigrants to the U.S. should be aware that fraudulent websites exist posing as U.S. government entities to scam individuals out of money. Some companies have requested money from users in order to “complete” DV entrance forms, but immigrants should know that there is no charge to download and complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form. Emails that claim to be from the Department of State should be suspected as fraudulent as well, because the DOS does not notify winning DV applicants by letter or email. Applicants can check the status of their entries by accessing the lottery website at www.dvlottery.state.gov to find out if they were or were not selected.

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