What is the visa lottery? How can I get a green card?
One of the immigration programs that President Donald Trump has openly criticized is changing: the Visa Lottery now has a new hurdle.
Effective immediately, foreigners are required to have a valid, unexpired passport, to be able to participate in the green card raffle.
An estimated 14 million foreign nationals, natives of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, register each year through an electronic entry form, to legally immigrate to the U.S. The winners are randomly drawn.
It states: “To require the petitioner to include on the electronic diversity visa entry form the unique serial or issuance number associated with the petitioner’s valid, unexpired passport; country or authority of passport issuance; and passport expiration date.”
This new requirement will only apply to principal petitioners and not their family members included on their applications.
Previously, prospective immigrants didn’t need a valid passport to register for the program, although they did need one after they won their draw. It was one of the documents they would need to bring to the the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate — one of the final steps before receiving their diversity visas.
The State Department explains in the document that the rule change is needed to curb the high number of fraudulent enrollments in the program, because sometimes fraudulent organizations submit entries for individuals without their consent.
“Individuals or entities that submit unauthorized entries will often contact unwitting individuals whose identities were used on selected DV Program entries, inform them of the opportunity to apply for a diversity visa, and hold the entry information from the named petitioner in exchange for payment,” states the agency.
In addition to the new passport requirement, U.S. officials also included a new sentence in the law to clarify that if foreign citizens do not comply strictly with the instructions and don’t include all the required information, they will be immediately disqualified from the drawing of that fiscal year.
“Current instructions are not clear that failure to provide that information results in mandatory disqualification,” says the interim final rule, noting that this applies also to the digital image or photo requirements.
The State Department will accept public comments until July 5, 2019.
The Visa Lottery is one of the easiest visa programs for foreigners who lack American sponsors and want to live in the U.S. But President Trump has assailed the program, saying that the “worst of the worst” are selected in the cost-free process.
Last month, when the winners for Fiscal Year 2020 were announced, the State Department’s website collapsed due to the search frenzy.
The registration process for the DV-2021 randomized computer drawing has not yet been announced. In October, consular interviews begin for the winners of the previous draw, whose visas must be issued prior to September 30, 2020.
Daniel Shoer Roth is a journalist covering immigration law who does not offer legal advice or individual assistance to applicants. Follow him on Twitter @DanielShoerRoth.
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