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Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Now Open for Fiscal Year 2011

Immigration Law Update Maria F. Kallmeyer, Grant Sovern, Lisa D. Duran, Eric D. Ledbetter

Each year the U.S. Congress makes available 55,000 immigrant visas (aka, "green cards") to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program. The U.S. Department of State conducts the lottery and randomly selects approximately 102,800 applicants from a pool of millions of qualified entrants. From this selected applicant pool, a maximum of 50,000 Diversity Visas are then issued during the following fiscal year. Once all the visas are issued or the fiscal year ends, the program is closed. Recipients of Diversity Visas are authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Additionally, they are allowed to sponsor a spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 for lawful permanent residence in the United States along with them.

The State Department will be accepting applications for the next diversity lottery from Friday, October 2, 2009 at 12 p.m. EDT until Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12 p.m. EST. Individuals may submit only one application, which must be filed electronically at www.dvlottery.state.gov during this period. Paper entries will not be accepted. Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in Web site delays. No entries will be accepted after 12 p.m. EST on November 30, 2009. All applications must be accompanied by a passport-style digital photograph of the applicant, the accompanying spouse and each unmarried child under the age of 21 (who is not a U.S. citizen). In order to qualify, an applicant must have EITHER a high school education or its equivalent OR two years of work experience within the past five years, in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. Each spouse in a family may submit a separate application that will cover both spouses and any dependent children.

The results of the lottery will be announced on a rolling basis in the late spring and early summer of 2010. Last year, the State Department received approximately 13.6 million qualified entries, out which only 102,600 applicants were selected. Being selected in the diversity lottery does not guarantee permanent residency status. Instead, selected applicants are merely eligible to apply for permanent residency if their assigned rank number becomes current. Even then, the selected applicant must complete an extensive application process and satisfy national security and criminal background checks. Because the number of individuals selected in the lottery far exceeds the number of actual permanent visas available, it is critical that selected applicants be prepared to act quickly upon receiving the government notification in the mail. Applications that are not submitted and approved before the 50,000 limit is reached and before the end of the 2011 fiscal year will be denied.

Individuals in F-1, J-1 or other strict nonimmigrant status who are selected in the lottery are advised to consult an immigration attorney before submitting a permanent residency application in order to assess any potential consequences to their nonimmigrant status.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program was created to encourage people from countries with low immigration rates to immigrate to the U.S. Therefore, foreign nationals from countries with high levels of immigration to the United States are ineligible for the program. For the DV-2011 program, citizens from the following countries are not eligible to apply: 

Brazil El Salvador Pakistan
Canada Guatemala Philippines
People's Republic of China* Haiti Peru
Colombia India Poland
Dominican Republic Jamaica  South Korea
Ecuador Mexico U.K. and its dependent territories
(except Northern Ireland)
Vietnam

*Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible. 

Please see the U.S. Department of State's instructions for DV-2011, available at http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html. For additional information, please call your local Quarles & Brady attorney or contact immigration attorneys Maria Kallmeyer at 312-715-5009 / maria.kallmeyer@quarles.com, Grant Sovern at 608-283-2668 / grant.sovern@quarles.com, Lisa Duran at 602-229-5225 / lisa.duran@quarles.com or Eric Ledbetter at 312-715-5018 / eric.ledbetter@quarles.com.

Please Note: There have been instances of fraudulent websites posing as official U.S. Government sites. Some companies posing as the U.S. Government have sought money in order to "complete" lottery entry forms. There is no charge to download and complete the electronic diversity visa entry form. The Department of State notifies successful diversity visa applicants by letter and not by email.

The following is a statistical breakdown, by region and country, of the successful applicants for the DV-2010 diversity lottery program (Note: These applicants applied in the fall of 2008 and were selected for further processing in the late spring/early summer of 2009). These statistics are provided simply as a view of the last Diversity Visa lottery. Because it is a random drawing, the numbers can vary substantially from year to year.

 

AFRICA
Algeria - 1,957
Angola - 46
Benin - 369
Botswana - 23
Burkina Faso - 184
Burundi - 83
Cameroon - 3,719
Cape Verde - 6
Central African Rep. - 20
Chad - 27
Comoros - 9
Congo - 92
Congo, The Democratic
Republic of - 1,817
Côte d'Ivoire - 658
Djibouti - 33
Egypt - 4,201
Equatorial Guinea - 15
Eritrea - 799
Ethiopia - 5,200
Gabon - 19
Gambia, The - 108
Ghana - 8,752
Guinea - 737
Guinea-Bissau - 8
Kenya - 4,619
Lesotho - 2
Liberia - 2,172
Libya - 152
Madagascar - 31
Malawi - 50
Mali - 129
Mauritania - 20
Mauritius - 78
Morocco - 3,124
Mozambique - 8
Namibia - 216
Niger - 56
Nigeria - 6,006
Rwanda - 178
São Tomé e Príncipe - 0
Senegal - 520
Seychelles - 4
Sierra Leone - 3,898
Somalia - 229
South Africa - 863
Sudan - 1,084
Swaziland - 11
Tanzania - 221
Togo - 827
Tunisia - 164
Uganda - 396
Zambia - 93
Zimbabwe - 170
 ASIA
Afghanistan - 345
Bahrain - 15
Bangladesh - 6,001
Bhutan - 2
Burma - 473
Cambodia - 359
Hong Kong
Special Admin. Region - 49
Indonesia - 277
Iran - 2,773
Iraq - 142
Israel - 99
Japan - 302
Jordan - 143
North Korea - 3
Kuwait - 70
Laos - 3
Lebanon - 181
Malaysia - 60
Maldives - 0
Mongolia - 144
Nepal - 2,132
Oman - 2
Qatar - 13
Saudi Arabia - 104
Singapore - 37
Sri Lanka - 650
Syria - 98
Thailand - 54
Taiwan - 368
United Arab Emirates - 30
Yemen - 72
EUROPE
Albania - 2,311
Andorra - 6
Armenia - 1,332
Aruba - 16
Austria - 181
Azerbaijan - 324
Belarus - 1,178
Belgium - 117
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 72
Bulgaria - 542
Croatia - 74
Cyprus - 23
Czech Republic - 116
Denmark - 75
Estonia - 66
Finland - 83
France - 703
French Guiana - 4
French Polynesia - 8
Georgia - 648
Germany - 2,188
Greece - 48
Greenland - 2
Hungary - 192
Iceland - 36
Ireland - 167
Italy - 470
Kazakhstan - 343
Kyrgyzstan - 205
Latvia - 90
Liechtenstein - 0
Lithuania - 195
Luxembourg - 2
Macau - 17
Macedonia - 272
Malta - 7
Moldova - 724
Montenegro - 13
Netherlands - 200
Netherlands Antilles - 22
Northern Ireland - 31
Norway - 60
Portugal - 51
Romania - 674
Serbia - 367
Slovakia - 108
Slovenia - 19
Spain - 169
Sweden - 163
Switzerland - 185
Tajikistan - 178
Turkey - 2,826
Turkmenistan - 108
Ukraine - 5,499
Uzbekistan - 4,059
NORTH AMERICA
Bahamas, The - 18    
OCEANIA
Australia - 705
Christmas Islands - 2
Fiji - 674
Kiribati - 1
Nauru - 3
New Zealand - 258
Niue - 16
Palau - 12
Papua New Guinea - 15
Solomon Islands - 3
Tonga - 80
Tuvalu - 1
Vanuatu - 7
Western Samoa - 26
SOUTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Antigua and Barbuda - 9
Argentina - 188
Barbados - 29
Belize - 10
Bolivia - 142
Chile - 53
Costa Rica - 74
Cuba - 298
Dominica - 18
Grenada - 9
Guyana - 41
Honduras - 82
Nicaragua - 50
Panama - 39
Paraguay -- 29
Saint Kitts & Nevis - 6
Saint Lucia - 19
Saint Vincent and
The Grenadines - 9
Suriname - 10
Trinidad and Tobago - 226
Uruguay - 17
Venezuela - 624