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The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced the opening of the registration period for the DV-2013 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery program. The DV lottery program enables foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence in the United States without employer 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 Department of Homeland Security, provided 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 Tuesday, October 4, 2011, and noon EDT on Saturday, November 5, 2011.

Applicants must submit an Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV Entry Form), which is available only from the DV lottery website. Importantly, there is no fee to enter the annual DV lottery program. Applicants will again be required to use their unique confirmation number provided at registration to check the status of their entry online through the Entry Status Check. Successful entrants will receive instructions on how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and their eligible family members. Confirmation of visa interview appointments will also be made through the Entry Status Check. The Kentucky Consular Center will not be mailing out notification letters.

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 United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, 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.

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 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 online Entry Status Check will be the sole means for applicants to determine whether their entry has been selected, so it's essential that the confirmation number provided at registration is retained. The Entry Status Check will be available starting May 1, 2012 on the DV lottery website.

Please contact one of our immigration attorneys should you have questions regarding your eligibility or need assistance in completing the DV-2013 lottery application. Remember, the Electronic Diversity Visa entry form must be submitted by noon EDT on Saturday, November 5, 2011.