There is the diversity lottery program where up to 50,000 individuals are selected from a random lottery and then processed for a green card. If you are selected in the random lottery then you are one step closer to becoming a green card holder. However, it is important to note that being selected in the lottery does not guarantee your selected number will become current for processing. Once selected in the lottery, you will only have up to one fiscal year, which is until September 30th to complete the process. If your case does not become current before September 30th then you’ll lose your chance to receive the diversity immigrant visa. If you fall under the following categories, you may be eligible to apply for a green card as a diversity lottery immigrant:
- You’ve been selected for a diversity visa by Department of State’s lottery;
- You have been notified that your number is current for consular processing (through the Visa Bulletin) or an immigrant visa is immediately available at the time of filing an adjustment of status application (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status); and
- You are admissible to the United States.
The hardest part of this process is waiting for your assigned number to become current. Once your number becomes current, then most people will go through consular processing to receive the immigrant visa and then to enter the United States. However, there are a few who live in the United States (with a work or student visa) who choose to go through the adjustment of status process.
Adjustment of Status (AOS) Process
If you are located in the United States, you may be able to submit an adjustment of status application. Generally, this involves submitting the adjustment of status application, attending a biometrics appointment and then the final interview some months later. The trickiest part is figuring out what to do in this process once your selected lottery number becomes current. Because you are in the United States, it will be the USCIS that will process your diversity lottery adjustment of status application. The Visa Bulletin will provide you the information you need to determine when your number is about to become current. It is important to check the Visa Bulletin regularly to find out when you can file your AOS application with the USCIS. If you check the Visa Bulletin regularly, you will be able to know when your number is about to become current, about one (1) month in advance. At the point you determine that your number is about to become current in the following month, you should proceed with the AOS process (See more information about how this works here).
When your number is about to become current, you will also need to pay the DV Visa Processing Fee to the Department of State and then attach the receipt to your AOS application, which you will send to the designated USCIS office. Assuming you are eligible to apply for AOS, the USCIS will take charge of processing your case in the United States and will verify your current visa number with the Department of State during the final stage of processing.
The Visa Bulletin for Diversity Lottery Explained
The USCIS is aware of the time limit to process the AOS by September 30th and has implemented a system where DV applicants can check the Visa Bulletin for the Rank Cut-off numbers for the following month. If your number is below the number for the Rank Cut-off in your region (for example, Europe or Africa), you will be allowed to apply for AOS. For example, the Visa Bulletin for April 2019 shows the DV Immigrant Visa Category for the Month of April and May. If May’s Cut-Off Rank number for Africa is 24,500, anyone with a number below 24,500 can go ahead and apply for the AOS in advance through the designated USCIS Office. The purpose of showing the May Rank Cut-off, is to notify DV applicants that their number will become current in May to allow them more time to apply for the AOS; about one (1) month ahead of time. This system of advance notice to the DV applicant allows early submission of the AOS application to enable the USCIS to begin processing the application, to schedule the biometrics (finger printing appointment) and to complete the background check. But it is the responsibility of the DV applicant to check the Rank Cut-Off for advance notice. You will need to keep checking the Visa Bulletin for the Rank Cut-Off number to determine your eligibility to apply for the AOS.
During the process you should be on the look out for any requests for more evidence, called RFEs. Failure to respond to these may cause a delay or denial of your application. Before applying for the green card through the adjustment of status process you should make sure that this is the right process for you. For instance, verify that there are no admissibility issues. Consider applying for employment authorization (if necessary) and advanced parole. Advanced parole will allow you to travel outside of the United States during the adjustment of status application process. Each of the pieces of this process can get complicated. If you miss something or make mistakes, it could mean a delayed process or even a denial. In this Adjustment of Status process time is of the essence. It is important to tread carefully and be meticulous through this process.
When considering whether to go through with this type of green card application, it is important to take other circumstances and factors into consideration. Failing to do this may cause complications during the application process. For instance, any facts that involve previous denials, past immigration and criminal violations, previous marriages that involved filings, entry with other types of visas, tax issues, visa overstays, and previous employment in the United States can be just as important as the basic eligibility criteria. A single criminal violation, whether a misdemeanor or more serious, or a previous immigration violation can lead you to be inadmissible to the United States, which may require additional steps to get a green card, such as a waiver.
It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with your case. An attorney will assist with preparing the petition, assist with gathering evidence, and advocate vigorously for you during the process. Here at ST Law Office, I have dedicated my practice solely to immigration matters. I vigorously advocate no matter how simple or complicated the matter. Don’t hesitate to call us at 561-405-4889 or to schedule your initial phone, online or in-person consultation now.