By R. Mark Frey
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the DV-Lottery Program, came into existence following passage of the Immigration Act of 1990. The program is rather unique in that then President George H.W. Bush and congressional leaders recognized the value of diversity and sought its development through a program randomly selecting immigrants from historically underrepresented countries.
The program is administered by the Department of State with 50,000 immigrant visas set aside for those selected through the lottery process each year. The visas are distributed by region (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania as well as South and Central America and the Caribbean) with more visas allotted to those areas sending fewer immigrants to the United States through Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based visa processing over the preceding five years.
This year’s DV-Lottery registration period commences on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and runs to Monday, November 7, 2016 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Countries deemed ineligible this year include: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) as well as its dependent territories, and Vietnam. (Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible). Individuals born in countries other than the aforementioned are eligible to register for the Diversity Lottery. Alternatively, one may claim eligibility through one’s spouse if that spouse was born in an eligible country. Or, for that matter, through the country of citizenship of one’s parents provided they were not born or “legally resident” of the country of one’s birth that is deemed ineligible. As the Department of State has observed, people are not typically considered “residents” of a country where they were not born or legally naturalized but only visiting, studying temporarily, or stationed for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government different from one’s country of birth.
One is required, additionally, to hold a high school degree or its equivalent (completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education) or, in the alternative, two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform, per guidelines developed by the Department of Labor.
An applicant will be disqualified if (s)he is unable to meet those eligibility requirements or files more than one application with the Department of State.
Very basic information is required in the application itself: the registrant’s name, date of birth, city and country of birth, gender, country of claimed eligibility for the DV-Lottery, photograph (to be scanned and submitted electronically with the application), mailing address (address for notification, if selected), country where one presently resides, telephone number (optional), email address, highest level of education achieved, marital status with basic information about one’s spouse, if married, and listing of one’s living children (biological, legally adopted, and step-children) who are unmarried and under the age of 21 at the time of filing the application as well as a photograph of each. Failure to list one’s spouse and children may cause one to lose eligibility for a diversity immigrant visa, if selected. It is very important to provide complete information on the application form. More details about the DV-Lottery Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2018) may be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/diversity-visa/instructions.html.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is unique and significant in that it illustrates both our country’s commitment to diversity and recognition of the contributions made by peoples from varied lands and backgrounds.
Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead insightfully pointed out, “(i)f we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place.” Our nation’s founders understood and embraced this concept when they fashioned our Great Seal over 225 years ago with the words, E Pluribus Unum. Those powerful words, “Out of Many, One,” are no less significant today.
R. Mark Frey is a St. Paul, Minnesota attorney who has practiced immigration law exclusively for more than 25 years with an emphasis on asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief, family and marriage-based immigration, naturalization, removal defense, appeals, religious workers, and H-1B, L, and E-2 visas.