What If I Was Selected in Diversity Visa Lottery When I Am Already in the United States?
Being selected in Diversity Visa Lottery (DV Lottery) is random. DV Lottery, also known as Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, makes 50,000 diversity visas available annually to people who wish to immigrate to the United States. For more information on DV Lottery, please see our related article, “Diversity Visa Lottery.”
This article will help answering some of the basic questions you may have if you would like to know the next step once you are selected in DV Lottery. However, we encourage you to talk to an experienced lawyer about your specific case in order to avoid any potential problems and complications.
If you are selected in DV Lottery, you will receive notification through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website, informing you that you have been selected for further processing in the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program. That means that you and your qualifying family members receive a chance to immigrate to the United States.
It is important to remember that selection does not guarantee you a visa. In order to receive a visa to immigrate to the United States, you must still meet all eligibility requirements under United States law.
If you receive notification that you have been selected in the DV Program, and you are already in the United States, you may be eligible to “adjust status” to obtain permanent residence through the DV Program. “Adjustment of status” is a process that permits certain qualifying immigrants to change their status from non-immigrant (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) while they are in the United States.
It is important to remember that the option to adjust status in the United States may not be available to all DV Lottery applicants. To apply for a green card without leaving the United States, you must be in lawful status (such as F-1 student, H-1B worker, J-1 visitor, etc.) at the time your visa number becomes available. For visa availability, you can check the latest month’s Department of State Visa Bulletin at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2018/visa-bulletin-for-june-2018.html.
However, if you have accrued any unlawful presence in the United States at any time, you may not be able to adjust status in the U.S., even if you currently have lawful status. That may be a complicated issue, and you should consult an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer to find out what options you may have in your specific situation.
1) What If I Am Eligible to Adjust Status, Now What Do I Do?
If you are eligible to adjust your status, then you will be required to pay a non-refundable diversity visa fee directly to the Department of State. The fee is separate from any fees that you will need to pay USCIS as part of your adjustment application. You must pay the diversity visa fee for yourself and for each member of your immediate family who plans to adjust status with you in the United States.
If you are eligible to adjust status, you will need to submit your green card application (I-485) and supporting documents to your local USCIS office. You will need to submit the following supporting documents:
- Form G-325, Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
- Two passport-style photos
- Copy of birth certificate
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
- Copy of passport page with non-immigrant visa (if applicable)
- Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp (if applicable)
- Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
- Certified copies of court records (if the individual has been arrested)
- Copy of the principal applicant’s selection letter for the diversity visa lottery from DOS
- Copy of the receipt from DOS for the diversity visa lottery processing fee
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable)
- Applicable fees
You will also need to attend an adjustment of status interview, where your eligibility will be determined. The adjustment of status process for diversity visa winners must be completed by September 30 of the fiscal year the lottery pertains to. Visas cannot be carried over to the next fiscal year.
If you do not submit a complete set of applicable documents, your green card may be delayed or even denied. For that reason, it is important to have an experienced U.S. immigration attorney help you in this process. A good lawyer will help you submit the necessary forms, collect the required documents, and prepare you and your family for the interview.
2) Can My Spouse and Children Still Apply Under the Diversity Visa Program?
If you are already in the United States, but your spouse and children still live outside the United States, they can still apply for immigrant visas under the Diversity Visa Program, provided that they were listed on your Diversity Visa online entry (with few exceptions).
It is important to remember that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate cannot process your family members’ applications until notification is received from USCIS informing you that you have adjusted your status.
Also, you must request USCIS to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you family plans to apply, and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will provide all further instructions. You must also notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate of the address where your family members can be contacted to schedule an interview. It is important to remember that USCIS will not automatically notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you have adjusted status and that your family members will apply abroad for their visas to join you.
Please remember that your spouse and/or children must apply for and be issued immigrant visas before the Diversity Visa Program ends on September 30, each year. Therefore, it is recommended that your spouse and/or children must apply for the Diversity Visa Program as soon as possible.
NOTICE: The information contained on this page site is intended to educate the general public and is not intended to provide legal advice. To ensure proper handling of your individual situation, please call +1-703-527-1779.
Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped many people from different countries receive green cards in the United States. To explore your immigration options, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].