This year the Department of State has notified approximately 125,000 “lucky” winners that they are eligible to compete for 50,000 Diversity Visa (“DV”) lottery green cards. Sadly, roughly 80,000 “winners” will not receive green cards before this Cinderella-like program expires on September 30, 2014 and your green card goes “poof”—up in smoke. While a lawyer may not have been necessary to apply for the DV lottery, the government is expecting you to get tripped up before the finish line. Consequently, you will want to carefully consider getting a lawyer to navigate the regulatory requirements and more technical aspects of ensuring that the lottery number you received actually results in a green card.
In fact, the biggest challenge faced by the lucky few who were selected through the annual lottery is ensuring that they are compliant with the DV program before it expires on September 30, 2014. Here is a brief overview of some of the challenges that lottery winners may face:
The Numbers Game
Lottery “winners” are assigned a rank order number. Of the approximately 125,000 “winners” who have been notified of their selection by the Department of State, only 50,000 will actually qualify for green cards through the visa lottery program. A knowledgeable attorney can optimize your prospects of successfully processing your green card petition. Since DV lottery visas are issued on a first-come-first-serve basis based on the winner’s rank serial number, timing is EVERYTHING! Submitting the correct documentation and expeditiously filing is critical to achieving success.
Complying with Technicalities
The State Department mandates strict compliance with the technical rules and regulations. Strict enforcement of the requirement for entering correct date of birth or spelling of name results in many winners being disqualified every year.
Work Related Eligibility
DV lottery winners who do not have high school diplomas can meet the work requirements by proving they have two years of work experience in an occupation which requires at least two years of education, training or experience within the past five years. However, the State Department and Department of Labor take different positions on the O*NET job zone classification necessary to meet this requirement as well as the Standard Vocational Preparation time for qualifying work experience.
Accordingly, selecting the right processing procedure and carefully documenting and categorizing work experience in accordance with the Department of State and the Department of Labor requirements are crucial to securing a green card. Sadly, persons without high school diplomas are required to prove they have almost professional level work experience, which is counterintuitive as they almost certainly need high school diplomas to get this type of experience.
Deportability and Inadmissibility
DV lottery winners are subject to the complex and often confusing grounds of inadmissibility and deportability including: Public Charge, Visa Overstays, Visa Fraud for Immigrant Intent, and Criminal Grounds. The public charge provisions require for example, that a family of three must reasonably show they can earn $19,530, or they can be refused on public charge grounds, and found inadmissible. Any one of these issues could mean the difference between getting a green card and finding yourself in removal proceedings, if you are in the U.S., or if you are abroad, you can be not only refused a green card, but also denied the ability to visit or study in the US on account of having expressed immigrant intent. It is important you understand these issues if you wish to ensure success in completing your green card application, and so that you do not find yourself in removal proceedings.
In conclusion, lottery winners of the 2014 DV lottery face a host of challenges as a result of having “won” the green card lottery. Failure to demonstrate eligibility in the areas outlined above could mean the difference between obtaining a green card and possible deportation. And while you may not have needed a lawyer to apply for the DV lottery, you could certainly benefit from having an expert help you navigate the path from selection to obtaining a green card. The statistics are clear: only 40% of those notified as “winners” actually get green cards. What happens to the other 60%? Some who do not maintain status and do not complete their application during the limited processing period are placed in deportation proceedings. For those applying from abroad, they are shocked to find their tourist visas denied, and they can also be denied student and trainee visas. If you seek a professional consultation, call us at 1-800-VISA-LAW, or email us to discuss your case.