"Winner" of the Diversity Visa Program: A Fairy Tale for Many


On May 1, 2014 the U.S. Department of State announced the winners of the 2015 Diversity Visa program (DV-2015). Over 100,000 eager U.S. immigrants were selected and these “winners” will have an opportunity to have their fairy tale come true – a chance to obtain a green card.

However, being selected for the diversity immigrant visa program is not the fairy tale many “winners” expect it to be. It is not a ticket to a guaranteed green card. In reality, it is a ticket to yet another more rigid lottery. Unfortunately, only 50,000 immigrant visas are allotted to the diversity lottery “winners” and their accompanying family members. As a result less than half of the 100,000 “winners” will actually be issued green cards, leaving thousands massively disappointed.

The so-called “winners” of the diversity immigrant visa program must meet certain eligibility criteria to obtain a green card. The principal applicant must have the equivalent of a U.S. high school education, or two years of qualifying work experience in the last five years. A high school education is defined as the “successful completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completion of a 12-year course in the United States.” Only formal courses of study will meet this requirement. Thus, an equivalency certificate, such as a General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.), is insufficient.

If a candidate does not have the equivalent of a U.S. high school education, they have to prove that they have two years of work experience in an occupation that satisfies the incredibly high standard articulated by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor’s O*Net Online database is used to determine qualifying work experience. Sadly their criteria make it virtually impossible for an individual without a high school diploma to qualify. Although the regulation provide that the occupation must be classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) range of 7.0 or higher, the State Department’s instruction state that the occupation must be designated as a Job Zone 4 or 5 on the O*Net Online Database. As a result, most of the occupations that meet these criteria often require a bachelor’s, or even a master’s degree. The DV Lottery Application Instructions provide the example of an experienced aerospace engineer. In reality it is almost impossible to become an aerospace engineer without a high school diploma.

Sadly green card “winners” must not only meet these eligibility criteria but they must meet yet another challenge. Lottery “winners” are sequentially processed based on their rank serial number and candidates with high numbers have a lower chance of being scheduled for an interview, where they may have little or no time to correct deficiencies.

The “winners” of the diversity immigrant visa program have only until midnight on September 30, the end of the government fiscal year, to complete the processing for this “Cinderella visa.”

Every year, our law office receives numerous calls from devastated “winners” – brokenhearted Cinderellas with a shattered fairy tale dream. Although not all lottery applicants require legal representation, most “winners” will benefit from consulting with an immigration attorney who can help navigate these complex issues, and make the dream come true.

Lottery “winners” of the DV-2015 can contact our DV lawyer specialists at Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP via email at Lottery@Wolfsdorf.com.

This post originally appeared on Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP. Copyright © 2014 Wolfsdorf Connect - All Rights Reserved . Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Vanessa Sanchez Vanessa Sanchez is a graduate of Southwestern Law School, and is licensed to practice law in California. Ms. Sanchez also has a Master's Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach.
Ms. Sanchez has experience with applications for U.S. Citizenship, U Visa, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Violence Against Women Act, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As an advanced student in Southwestern Law School's Immigration Law Clinic, Ms. Sanchez was a lead organizer of a workshop for DACA applicants. She recently served as the Law Student Liaison for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Southern California Chapter (2012-2013).

Bernard Wolfsdorf Bernard Wolfsdorf is a recent past President of AILA and Managing Partner of the top-rated Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP with offices in Los Angeles and New York. With 21 lawyers and 60 professionals, the firm is known worldwide for its excellence in providing value and top-quality global immigration representation. Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP has been described by Chambers USA as "a force to be reckoned with."

Vanessa Sanchez Naveen Rahman Bhora is the managing attorney of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP's New York Office and has been with the firm since 1999. She represents a wide range of clients in U.S. immigration matters, from individuals and small and emerging businesses to major hospitals and universities. Ms. Bhora has developed a particular expertise in extraordinary/exceptional ability and outstanding researcher/professor matters, and represents physicians, registered nurses and allied healthcare workers, among others. Ms. Bhora is an active member of the California Bar, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the International Medical Graduate Taskforce. She is the former Treasurer of the Southern California Chapter of the AILA and served two terms on AILA’s Vermont Service Center Liaison Committee. Ms. Bhora has written extensively on various advanced immigration law topics and continues to present to local and national audiences, including physician groups and universities.

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