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Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Now Open For Fiscal Year 2013

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

Each year the U.S. Congress makes available approximately 50,000 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 100,000 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 Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 12 p.m. EDT until Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 12 p.m. EDT. 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 website delays. No entries will be accepted after 12 p.m. EDT on November 5, 2011.

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 2012. Last year the State Department received approximately 14.7 million qualified entries, out of which only 100,021 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 2013 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-2013 program, citizens from the following countries are not eligible to apply:

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

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

Please see the U.S. Department of State's instructions for DV-2013, 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.comGrant Sovern at (608) 283-2668 / grant.sovern@quarles.com or Lisa Duran at (602) 229-5225 / lisa.duran@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-2012 diversity lottery program (Note: These applicants applied in the fall of 2010 and were selected for further processing in the late spring/early summer of 2011). 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 - 1,799
Angola - 42
Benin - 511
Botswana - 7
Burkina Faso - 226
Burundi - 56
Cameroon - 3,374
Cape Verde - 9
Central African Rep. - 3
Chad - 33
Comoros - 9
Congo - 105
Congo, The Democratic
Republic of - 3,445
Côte d'Ivoire - 553
Djibouti - 38 
Egypt - 4,664
Equatorial Guinea - 4
Eritrea - 670
Ethiopia - 4,902
Gabon - 48
Gambia, The - 113
Ghana - 5,832
Guinea - 899
Guinea-Bissau - 3
Kenya - 4,720
Lesotho - 8
Liberia - 2,101
Libya - 136
Madagascar - 17
Malawi - 16
Mali - 76
Mauritania - 29
Mauritius - 59
Morocco - 1,890
Mozambique - 13
Namibia - 10
Niger - 32
Nigeria - 6,024
Rwanda - 333
Senegal - 270
Seychelles - 6
Sierra Leone - 3,397
Somalia - 175
South Africa - 833
Sudan - 757
Tanzania - 175
Togo - 845
Tunisia - 113
Uganda - 418
Zambia - 79
Zimbabwe - 123

ASIA
Afghanistan - 109
Bahrain - 29
Bangladesh - 2,373
Bhutan - 5
Burma - 370
Cambodia - 596
Hong Kong
Special Admin. Region - 54
Indonesia - 256
Iran - 4,453
Iraq - 153
Israel - 175
Japan - 435
Jordan - 152 
Kuwait - 108
Laos - 1
Lebanon - 274
Malaysia - 118 
Mongolia - 209
Nepal - 3,258
Oman - 11
Qatar - 19
Saudi Arabia - 217
Singapore - 45
Sri Lanka - 708
Syria - 160
Taiwan - 391
Thailand - 73
Timor-Leste - 9
United Arab Emirates - 92
Yemen - 149

EUROPE
Albania - 1,508
Andorra - 1
Armenia - 998
Aruba - 4
Austria - 130
Azerbaijan - 304
Belarus - 493
Belgium - 105
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 83
Bulgaria - 883
Croatia - 107
Curacao - 19
Cyprus - 26
Czech Republic - 104
Denmark - 73
Estonia - 49
Finland - 91
France - 574
French Polynesia - 7
New Caledonia - 1
Georgia - 620
Germany - 1,709
Greece - 105 
Hungary - 325
Iceland - 56
Ireland - 213
Italy - 529
Kazakhstan - 434
Kosovo - 137
Kyrgyzstan - 321
Latvia - 83
Lithuania - 258
Luxembourg - 8
Macedonia - 160
Malta - 20 
Moldova - 1,238
Monaco - 3
Montenegro - 18
Netherlands - 149 
Netherlands Antilles - 16 
Northern Ireland - 59
Norway - 84
Portugal - 66
Macau Special Admin. Region - 19
Romania - 1,327
Russia - 2,353
San Marino - 1
Serbia - 298
Slovakia - 80
Slovenia - 16
Spain - 232
St. Maarten - 2 
Sweden - 200
Switzerland - 229
Tajikistan - 270
Turkey - 3,077
Turkmenistan - 143
Ukraine - 5,799
Uzbekistan - 4,800

NORTH AMERICA
Bahamas, The - 15    

OCEANIA
Australia - 900
Christmas Island - 3
Cocos Islands - 1
Fiji - 628
Kiribati - 14
Marshall Islands - 4
Micronesia, Federated States
of - 2
Nauru - 5
New Zealand - 309
Cook Islands - 6 
Niue - 14
Palau - 5
Tonga - 93
Vanuatu - 8
Western Samoa - 9

SOUTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Antigua and Barbuda - 9
Argentina - 101
Barbados - 25
Belize - 9
Bolivia - 84
Chile - 43
Costa Rica - 43
Cuba - 292
Dominica - 18
Grenada - 24
Guyana - 26
Honduras - 80
Nicaragua - 49
Panama - 21
Paraguay - 17
Saint Kitts & Nevis - 7
Saint Lucia - 4
Saint Vincent and
The Grenadines - 16
Suriname - 15
Trinidad and Tobago - 175
Uruguay - 19
Venezuela - 925