The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced the opening of the registration period for the DV-2011 Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program. The DV Lottery Program enables foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence in the United States without employment or family sponsorship. The DV Lottery Program selects 50,000 people annually who can then pursue an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country or adjust their status in the U.S. through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (if a foreign national is residing legally in a nonimmigrant status in the U.S. at the time of the application).

This year's program will again accept only electronic (online) applications. Both the application and the required accompanying photographs must be submitted in an acceptable electronic format. Failure to complete the form in its entirety will disqualify the applicant's entry. To be eligible in the lottery drawing, the application must be received between noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Friday, October 2, 2009, and noon EDT on Monday, November 30, 2009. Applicants must submit an Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV Entry Form), which is available only at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Importantly, there is no fee to enter the annual DV Lottery Program. One change to the program this year is that applicants must provide an email address as part of their entry; it is no longer optional. Persons selected in the lottery will still receive official notification of their selection via mail, but the Department of State may still send other communications to applicants via email.  

Persons born in the following countries are not eligible to participate because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years: Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, 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. The list of eligible countries remains the same this year as it was for the DV-2010 program.   

To enter the lottery, an applicant must possess either a high school diploma (or its equivalent) or have two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires, at a minimum, two years of training or experience. Only one entry per person is permitted. Applicants should be aware that submitting more than one entry will disqualify all entries by the applicant. A husband and wife may each submit one entry, provided that each spouse meets the eligibility requirements. If either spouse is selected, the other will be entitled to derivative permanent residence status. Minor children under 21 will also secure a derivative permanent residence status, should one of their parents be selected in the lottery.

Applicants will be selected at random by computer from among all qualified entries. The selected individuals will be notified by mail between May and July 2010. Those selected in the random drawing are not notified by e-mail, and those individuals not selected will not receive any notification. This year, applicants will once again be able to check the status of their entry online by entering information from the online confirmation page. The confirmation information will be provided only once at the time of entry. It is very important, therefore, to write down the confirmation number to verify the status of the application later on. All applicants, including those not selected in the lottery, will be able to check the status of their entry through the E-DV website and find out whether their application was selected.

Interested applicants should review the DOS website at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Please contact one of our immigration attorneys should you have questions regarding your eligibility or help in completing the DV-2011 lottery application. Remember, the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form must be submitted by noon EST, November 30, 2009.