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U.S. State Department announces 2013 (DV-2015) green card lottery program

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Today, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs announced the online registration dates and official instructions for the diversity visa aka “green card lottery”. The rules are the same for the 2013 green card lottery as for last year’s 2012 lottery. However, those born in Nigeria are now ineligible to apply, as predicted earlier for DV-2015.

The DV program awards 50,000 visas annually to citizens of countries that are under-represented in terms of U.S. immigration visas. Approximately 100,000 “winners” will be chosen randomly by computer on May 1, 2014 for interviews at U.S. consulates abroad or at a local USCIS office in the United States to verify eligibility to adjust status to that of a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident. Of those, only half will be selected to receive a visa.

Those eligible for the green card lottery can register electronically at the official U.S. government website at: https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ during the 30-day open registration period from: noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 1, 2013, to: noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Saturday, November 2, 2013. Or, applicants can register any time of year using a highly rated lottery service.

Eligibility is determined by country of birth (not country of residence), and applicants must also meet certain personal requirements. This includes having at least the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or work experience within the past 5 years in one of the qualifying occupations listed in the Department of Labor’s O*Net database.

Countries and islands ineligible for the upcoming calendar year 2013 lottery are: Anguilla, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Columbia, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Pitcairn, South Korea, St. Helena, Turks And Caicos Islands, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland), Vietnam were all ineligible. Applicants born in all other countries are eligible.

There is no charge to enter the lottery. However, determining eligibility is just complicated enough or applicants have special circumstances that many get third party assistance. This includes how to guides, using a fee-based lottery service, or a U.S. based immigration attorney. Fees can run from under $100 for one person for one year to over a thousand dollars for multi-year family-based applications with airline tickets for winners and other options.

According to Holger Zimmerman, owner of The American Dream, a leading green card lottery service provider:

The American Dream offers a wide range of useful services for Green Card Lottery applicants that are not available directly from the U.S. government. Discounts are available for those who register early.

The fact that the green card lottery was not terminated for 2013 represents a victory of sorts for the Congressional Black Caucus and other supporters of the diversity visa program who lobbied to retain it, particularly on behalf of poorer Caribbean and African immigrants with few other options to enter the United States. But it was Congressional inaction on immigration reform, particularly by the Republican led House of Representatives, that made their actions moot.

However, any future immigration reform legislation approved by the House will surely terminate the program beginning next year. For this reason, qualified applicants for the DV Program are strongly encouraged to enter this year since it could be the final year.

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