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Questions about Diversity Visa Program

What is the Diversity Visa? What are the requirements?

The Diversity Visa (DVs) is a visa granted to applicants through a lottery or random draw from a selection of entries. These entries are mostly from countries with low rate of immigrants to the United States. The draw happens with entries that meet the strict eligibility requirements. The qualification is based on education, work and other criteria. Successful DV entrants would be eligible to receive a visa if they meet the eligibility criteria. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program which is the directive of the Congress (U.S. government) allocates nearly 55,000 diversity visas annually. As per the rules and regulations, a DV entrant must have at least the following:
  • A high school education or its equivalent, and
  • Within the past five year, two years of work experience in an occupation that mandates at least two years' training or experience.

What is the best option for a person selected for the Diversity Visa to adjust status? Can I do it from the U.S. if I am currently here on a B-1/B-2 visa or can I do it from my home country?

In most cases when a person is selected for the Diversity Visa program their status can be adjusted in the United States. If you have a green card application pending then it is recommended you remain in the U.S. In case you have to leave prior to your approval, you should first get advance approval from USCIS using Form I-131. If you are not in the U.S. and you have been selected for the Diversity Visa, it is better not to enter the country with a non-immigrant visa. The U.S. Customs database would most likely have the Diversity Visa information.

What happens if an illegal immigrant in the U.S. wins the Diversity Visa? Is he/she eligible for a waiver

You need to have entered the U.S. legally in order to use the Diversity Visa if selected. If you are illegally in the U.S. then you have to leave the country. If the illegal immigrant leaves the U.S. they will not be able to re-enter for ten years in any status. A hardship waiver option is available if a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident spouse or parent files a petition on your behalf, but it is not easily granted.

After winning the diversity lottery, a person is found ineligible in the interview under section 212 (a)(5)(A) of the law, is there any option to appeal the decision?

In such a situation there is no possibility to appeal. The candidate must try to improve their job skills and his/her education qualifications and then re-apply for the lottery in another year.

Are financial support documents required for a Diversity Visa interview?

The main documents required are high school diploma, valid passport, birth certificate, family birth certificate, police report without any criminal record, and medical examination reports. An affidavit of support or financial support is not required. The main proof should be that one meets the educational requirements so that he/she is able to get a suitable job in the U.S.

A couple attending a Diversity Visa interview were denied their visas. The reason was that the officer considered the marriage fraudulent. Can this decision be appealed?

An appeal needs to be filed as soon as possible. In order to prove the marriage is true, proof such as photos pre- and post-wedding, affidavits from third parties who can vouch for the couple, sharing of assets like bank account, lease, and so on should be presented.

More details are available at the following website: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=621e2c1a6855d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD.

Can a spouse be added to the Diversity Visa after the initial application? Is it advisable to re-schedule the interview date in order to have all documents in order? Does the couple need to attend the interview together?

A spouse cannot be added on the initial application but he/she would be eligible to gain derivative beneficiary rights because of marriage (if the marriage was prior to the Diversity Visa interview date). The number of Diversity Visa winners is usually greater than the actual number of immigration visas issued. Rescheduling an interview can be risky. Hence it would not be sensible to take a chance in this regard.

The first step would be to inform the consulate about the marriage. The officials can exercise their discretion on how they wish to handle the interview process. The consulate will most likely ask the couple to attend the interview together and they would also want to check into the authenticity of the marriage. The reason for this is that it is a common practice for a diversity winner to marry after notification.

Winning a Diversity Visa through a lottery is a lucky break for anyone. But winning or qualifying through the lottery is not a guarantee a person will get the visa. Ensuring that you are prepared for this interview, given that the selection is based on strict criteria, is important.
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