What is the the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program

2F180A5A-1DD8-B71B-0BFE39F9778DF6D3-large-300x200On October 31, 2017, eight people were killed in a terrorist attack in New York City. Because the suspect originally came to the United States through the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program, there has been a lot of discussions regarding the future of the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program. Most prominently, U.S. President Donald Trump, has called on Congress to repeal the program.

Since the attack, there has been a lot of false reporting on what exactly the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program is. This blog post is intended to provide a brief overview of what exactly the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program is.

The Diversity Visa Immigrant Program is designed to allow a certain number of individuals to immigrate each year from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Under Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a certain number of visas (currently set at 50,000 visas a year) is set aside for the program. Under the program, the visas are distributed among six regions. In addition, no more than seven percent of the visas issued each year may go to nationals of the same country. Further, citizens of countries with high rates of immigration to the United States, are not eligible  to apply for a visa through the program. (Please see the attached link for a list of countries where citizens are not currently eligible.)

In order to be eligible under the program, applicants must meet a stringent education/work experience requirement. To be eligible, an applicant must have the equivalent of a high school education, or two years of prior work experience during the past five years. Individuals who are unable to provide evidence that they meet this requirement will not be allowed to immigrate under the program.

Applicants who meet the above qualification, are able to add certain qualifying relatives to their application. Applicants are generally allowed to also petition for their spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State, allows foreign nationals to apply for the program online during a limited window. (Currently, the U.S. Department of State is accepting applications for the 2019 fiscal year through November 22, 2017, at noon EST.) After the window to apply is closed, the U.S. Department of State randomly selects applications based on a formula which allocates visas to different regions and countries. Individuals are notified each spring whether or not their application was chosen for further processing.

Once selected, applicants must go through the same vigorous application process and background checks as any individual wishing to immigrate to the United States. Applicants must complete Form DS-260 online, and also upload various documents.The exact documents that an individual must submit varies from U.S. Embassy (or Consulate) to U.S. Embassy.

Once the DS-260 and accompanying documents are examined, and the applicant has successfully gone through a vigorous background check, the applicant is scheduled for an in person interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If approved, the applicant will be giving a visa to travel to the United States.

Applying for a visa through the Diversity Visa Program is a long and complicated process. It is essential that each stage of the process be done correctly, or an applicant faces the possibility of not being approved for a visa. Hartzman Law Firm, is well-versed in the Diversity Visa Program. Our Pittsburgh based immigration law firm routinely helps individuals receive visas through the Diversity Visa Program. If you or someone you know is looking for help with applying for a visa through the Diversity Visa Program, please call us at (412) 495-9849, or contact us online.