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While most foreign nationals who apply for immigrant visas in the United States must have either a family member or an employer sponsor their application, there are also a limited number of visas made available each year through the Diversity Visa Lottery program. As the name suggests, the purpose of this program is to allow a more diverse set of immigrants from a variety of countries enter the “melting pot” of the United States legally on a randomized basis.

If you would like to apply for the Diversity Visa lottery in St. Louis or outside U.S. borders from a qualifying country, seeking help from qualified legal counsel may be beneficial. While there is no external or government-run service that can increase a person’s chances of being selected for a Diversity Visa, guidance from an experienced attorney could be key to ensuring your application is free of mistakes that could impact your eligibility.

How the Diversity Visa Program Works

Every year, the U.S. State Department makes a maximum of 55,000 “Diversity Visas” available to individuals from countries that have sent less than 50,000 total immigrants to the United States within the last five years. About 12 million people apply for Diversity Visas during the short application period each year, which generally runs for about a month between early October and early November.

To be eligible for a Diversity Visa, an applicant must have either the equivalent of a high school education or at least two years of experience working in a field that—in the view of the U.S. Department of Labor—requires at least two years of training or practical experience, has a designation of Job Zone 4 or Job Zone 5, and has a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating greater than or equal to 7.0. Applicants seeking to apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery in St. Louis must also have a valid passport, unless they are stateless, originated from a Communist-controlled country where they could not obtain a passport, or have an individual waiver.

Applying for a Diversity Visa

The Department of State processes Diversity Visa applications filed from outside the United States, while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles the small number of accepted applicants who are already inside U.S. borders when they are selected in the lottery. Either way, applicants must file their initial petition through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website while the yearly registration period is open.

Once the application period concludes, the State Department selects about 100,000 qualifying applications at random to continue the application process, and then selects the 55,000 most qualified applicants. The only way for a Diversity Visa applicant in St. Louis to know whether they have been selected in the lottery is to enter their confirmation number in the Entrant Status Check section of the ED-V site.

Accepted applicants must file Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application and supporting documents through the Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center, ensuring that they include their Diversity Visa case number on their DS-260 Sign and Submit page. Individuals already residing in the U.S. must alternatively submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Both types of applicants must also complete an interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or the nearest USCIS office if they are already inside the United States.

A St. Louis Attorney Could Explain the Diversity Visa Lottery

Diversity Visas are only made available to a select few individuals each year, and only those who come from qualifying countries and meet certain other criteria. If you are selected through the Diversity Visa lottery, any mistake during the ensuing steps could make you miss your chance at getting a visa.

A qualified attorney could provide custom-tailored assistance with applying for the Diversity Visa Lottery in St. Louis. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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