The Department of State recently released the instructions for the 2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the "diversity lottery." Instructions can be found here.
If you happen to already be in the United States, and are fortunate enough to win a berth in the lottery, there are two things, among many, that you need to be aware of.
1) If you are selected for the 2016 program, you must complete your case during the 2016 fiscal year. In other words, your case must be adjudicated and approved before September 30, 2016. Unfortunately, there are no carry-over provisions so if your case is not finished before that deadline, you will be out of luck despite having won a slot.
2) The second thing to be aware of, especially if you are already in the United States is that winning the lottery is only one step towards permanent residence. If you plan on doing an adjustment of status case, you have to ensure that you are in fact eligible under Section 245 to apply for your green card, unless you are grandfathered or protected under Section 245i, which expired on April 30, 2001.
What does it mean to be eligible for green card processing here in the United States?
This is a very complicated topic, the scope of which is beyond this piece. However, in terms of the "big picture," it normally means a couple of things at a minimum:
· Lawful entry and inspection
· No current or previous violations of status
· Visa is current and available
· No criminal bars
For some people who have won places in the lottery in the past, adjustment has proven to be problematic because they may have snuck into the country without inspection or may have entered on a visitor's visa but now have overstayed. If a person is currently out of status or "illegal," he/she may not be able to adjust status here within the US on the basis of a diversity lottery case. This is not to say that all hope is lost, but the individual may need to investigate and explore with an immigration lawyer whether 245i or some sort of waiver can be of any help.
We hope that you have enjoyed this article and learned at least one new thing or tip that you may not have known. To keep informed about the latest developments in immigration law, please subscribe to our blog feed by clicking on the "Subscribe To This Blog's Feed" button on the left. It is important to understand that the above is only general information and not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor should it be relied upon as legal advice. The law is extremely fact and circumstance sensitive. For an individual legal analysis of your specific legal case, please complete the "Case Evaluation" box to the right of the screen to get in touch with one of our attorneys.