What is the visa lottery? How can I get a green card?
The waiting is over for foreigners who applied to immigrate to the United States through the visa lottery.
After holding the randomized computer drawing, the U.S. State Department has announced the winners for Fiscal Year 2020 of the Diversity Visa Program, which hands out 50,000 permanent resident cards, known as green cards, each year, despite President Donald Trump’s promise to end it.
Participants in the DV-2020 lottery can go to the Entrant Status Check page on the internet to learn if they won, using the confirmation number issued to them when they registered for the drawing.
That has been difficult so far, because the sudden wave of visa hopefuls checking on their entries has crashed the web page several times since Wednesday, the State Department reported.
The lottery is one of the most popular visa programs for foreigners who lack sponsors in the United States and want to immigrate here legally. But President Trump has assailed the program, saying that the “worst of the worst” are selected in the cost-free process.
How to find out if you won the visa lottery
To check on whether you won the visa lottery, the following is required:
▪ The confirmation number or code issued to you when you registered for the lottery
▪ Your surnames, just as you wrote them when you registered
▪ Your birth year, with all four digits
▪ The authentication code indicated by the system
State Department officials stressed that the status check page is the only way the lottery winners are announced. No notification letters will be sent out.
What happens next
But first, you have to confirm that you’re qualified. There are two general categories of requirements:
▪ First, the foreigner must have been born in qualifying countries. The countries not eligible this period are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland), and Vietnam.
▪ He or she also must have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, or two years’ work experience over the past five years in an eligible field that requires at least two years of training.
After the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) processes the Form DS-260, the visa winner and his or her relatives that will be allowed to migrate to the U.S. will receive instructions on how to scan and upload the required supporting documentation, including birth certificates, court and prison records, military records and police certificates.
The interview process
Once those documents are processed, the visa winners will receive emails from the KCC notifying them of an appointment for an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate they selected in the DS-260 Form.
“You should prepare for your interview thoroughly and carefully. Failure to be fully prepared for your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can result in delay or denial of your visa application,” the State Department warns on its page of instructions.
You must bring the following to the interview:
▪ Appointment letter
▪ Confirmation of the DS-260 page
▪ Medical exam results
▪ Originals of the supporting documentation
▪ Certified English translations of these documents
▪ Visa fee ($330)
For visa lottery winners who already live in the United States in a non-immigrant or other legal status, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will process adjustment of status applications. The first step to obtain a green card under the Diversity Visa Program is to file Form I-485 and the supporting evidence.
All the diversity visas raffled this year, including those for family members, must be issued no later than Sept. 30, 2020. Otherwise the winners will lose the right to obtain a green card.
Visit this link for a program overview and frequently asked questions.
Daniel Shoer Roth is a journalist covering immigration issues who does not offer legal advice or individual assistance to applicants. Follow him on Twitter @DanielShoerRoth.
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