Trump Calls for an End to the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program

In the wake of the terrorist attack in New York City this week by a foreign national who entered using the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, President Trump has called for ending it. Eliminating the program is not the answer to terrorist attacks, since it is an important part of the US immigration system and the Diversity Visa entrants undergo extreme vetting.

Diversity Visa lottery winners undergo screening just like every other immigrant visa applicant, including employment and family-based immigrants. The process is extremely thorough and can take many months. Security screening includes biometrics capture; name and fingerprints checks against many government agency databases to identify potential criminal or national security issues; and checks against terrorist, organized crime, gang and other watch-lists. Also, in some instances a “Security Advisory Opinion” may be required from the Department of State headquarters before a visa is issued.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the Diversity Visa lottery, since the visas are issued based on a lottery of applicants, provides for immigrant visas (legal permanent residency) for immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the US. Each year 50,000 visas are available and they Diversity Immigrant Visas are distributed among six geographic regions. There is no fee for applying for the Diversity Visa lottery. The deadline for the next Diversity Visa lottery program (DV-2019) is November 22, 2017. The following is the list of countries whose foreign nationals are not eligible for the Diversity Visa lottery program for 2019: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El
Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

Applicants who are selected must meet the following requirements:
1. Earned at least a high school education or its equivalent, defined as completing a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education; or
2. Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.

Applicants must submit the ‘Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV Entry Form or DS-5501) online at Starting on May 15, 2018, applicants can check their status online to see if they have been selected for DV-2019. The spouse and children under 21 of the applicant may also immigrate with the applicant.

If selected as one of the DV-2019 lottery winners, then the US Department of State will schedule an interview at a US consulate or at a local USCIS office in the US (to adjust status) and provide detailed instructions beforehand. DV selectee must be admissible to the US and complete the online Form DS-260. All selectees, including their family members, must be issued their visas by September 30, 2019. If the above comprehensive screening process is not completed by this date then the selectee will be denied a visa and lose his or her opportunity to immigrate through this program for this year.