Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Now Open
If you’ve ever dreamed of immigrating to the United States, now could be your chance.
Registration opened Oct. 6 for the FY2023 Diversity Visa lottery, a program that grants green cards to more than 50,000 randomly selected people from around the world.
The program, also known as the “green card lottery,” was established in 1990 to increase diversity in the United States. To qualify, you need to be a citizen of a country that has sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past five years.
To enter the lottery, all you have to do is fill out a simple form online at dvprogram.state.gov. Registration closes on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at noon. The State Department recommends applying sooner rather than later, since high demand could cause website delays.
The winners are chosen at random by a computer, which allocates a certain number of visas to each region of the world. You can check the status of your application starting on May 8, 2022 using the Entrant Status Check link on the Diversity Visa webpage.
For more information, check out Boundless’ detailed guide on the Diversity Visa program and this article on the 2022 Diversity Visa winners.
US Green Card Lottery Reopens; Past Winners Still in Limbo
As the U.S. government officially opens its diversity visa lottery program at the start of a new fiscal year, thousands of past winners from Afghanistan, Egypt, Peru, Iran and other nations continue to endure processing delays that are dimming hopes of a new life in America.
The Biden administration announced Wednesday that registration for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program for 2023 — popularly known as green card lottery — had begun. Congress authorized 55,000 green cards per year for immigrants around the world to promote diversity in the U.S.
Registration starts well before any given fiscal year — in this case, 2023 — to allow time for processing applications. But delays have become chronic and spawned legal action.
While accepting new applications, U.S. officials acknowledge a severe backlog in processing existing ones, many of which were filed during the former Trump administration and have been slowed by the pandemic.
For people like Samar, a 35-year-old historian from Egypt and a 2021 diversity visa winner, the window for getting authorization to travel to the U.S. is closing. An outspoken critic of human rights violations in her home country, she asked VOA not to reveal her last name.
"My fiscal year (deadline) ended on September 30, 2021. (The U.S. government) has not replied to the majority of my inquiries about my (diversity visa) case," Samar said. "This immigration opportunity is not a luxury for my family. … My family and I have experienced police harassment since 2016. … This immigration opportunity will help me and my family start a humane and safe life."
Visa eligibility does not transfer to the following year. The entire process must be completed in a year. With time running out, the mother of three decided to join other diversity visa winners in a lawsuit against the U.S. government in hopes of getting travel documents.
In an email to VOA, a State Department spokesperson said, "Being randomly chosen as a selectee does not guarantee that you will receive a visa or a visa interview. Selection merely means that the person is eligible to participate in the DV program."
The explanation is of little comfort to Samar.
"My husband and I have been applying for (diversity visas) since 2000. We have three kids. We followed all procedures and submitted all required forms and documents," she said. "We even tried to leave for the EU but couldn't get a visa."
The diversity visa program has had bumpy years of late.
In 2017, then-President Donald Trump announced a series of actions that blocked people from Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States.
Then, in March 2020, Trump shut down consulates around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. His administration subsequently announced a ban on certain immigrant visas, arguing it was needed to protect the American economy.
As a result, thousands of winners of the visa lottery were blocked from coming to the United States.
According to federal documents, once consulates began to reopen in the summer of 2020, officials were ordered to process diversity visas last.
Immigrant advocates sued. Last month, a federal judge ordered the Biden administration to resume processing lottery visa winners. Last week, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta in Washington issued an order setting aside about 7,000 visas for diversity lottery winners.
In court documents, U.S. officials said delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic, an argument that did not sway the judge.
"Some of that shortfall is no doubt due to the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic is not the primary culprit," Mehta said in his ruling. He added that a significant cause of processing delays is "the State Department's complete cessation of adjudicating diversity visa applications for five months and its unlawful deprioritizing of those applications when adjudications resumed."
While the State Department declined to comment on ongoing litigation, the agency said, "We are committed to reducing the backlog of immigrant visa applicants waiting to schedule appointments at their U.S. embassy or consulate, while keeping our staff and applicants safe. Applicants should monitor the website of the relevant embassy or consulate for updates."
US embassies swamped
According to immigration lawyers representing diversity visa winners, U.S. embassies have thousands of cases to process and are interviewing about 10 diversity visa cases a month.
"And it's so heartbreaking and frustrating for these people, because they've been in limbo for two years to get here," immigration lawyer Curtis Morrison told VOA.
Morrison said winners experiencing current delays have a roughly 1-in-3 chance of finishing the process and immigrating to the U.S.
"We're going to ask for more visas ... but we can't guarantee that the judge is going to go along with our ask," he said, referencing ongoing litigation.
Samar received news in 2020 that she had won a spot in the diversity visa program. She was tapped from among the millions of people around the world who enter the lottery each year.
She told VOA she sent all required paperwork and has been waiting for an interview at an American consulate.
But the last part of this process has yet to take place.
Samar said she could apply for the 2023 program, but the odds of winning the lottery twice in a row are small.
"Which means that my immigration to the U.S. is impossible at the current pace," she said.
VOA's Cindy Spang contributed to this report.
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Official DV Lottery Green Card Program
The Diversity Visa Program (DV Lottery) is congressionally-mandated and allows up to 55,000 persons from nations that are historically under-represented in terms of migration to the United States of America to qualify each year for immigrant visas which are also known as Green Cards.
The program is called the “Green Card Lottery” or "dvlottery", because the winners are determined through a random drawing from among the 10–12 million people who enter each year world wide.
The US is proud to be a country of immigrants. However, far more people are coming to the USA from certain countries than from others. For example, just those immigrating from Mexico, China and the Philippines are by far outnumbering those from most of the other countries accumulated. In order to maintain a diversity in the population, US laws regulate immigration from particular regions of the world.
For this reason the USA has been randomly distributed 55,000 so called Green Cards in the DV Lottery every year since 1994.
You can enter the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery for free at www.state.gov or use our service if you need any help with the application process. www.dvlottery.com is powered by The American Dream - US GreenCard Service GmbH, a government licensed immigration consultancy. We are not affiliated with the U.S. Government or any government agency.
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