I won the Visa Lottery, Now What? What to do After Winning The DV 2016 Lottery
During the month of October 2014, the US Department of State opened the period to register for the 2016 Visa Lottery drawn. Starting this coming Tuesday May 5th, everyone who signed up will be able to check to see if they have won the raffle.
How do I know if I won?
When you completed the Visa Lottery application back in October, the department of state sent a confirmation number to your email account. Starting on May 5th, you may start to check to see if your application was selected in the raffle by accessing this link:
Remember that the DOS will not send out any confirmation emails. Therefore you must monitor the information yourself.
If your name has been drawn in the visa lottery (DV), you will need to begin the process of application for your green card. This may take some time, and it is important to act fast. Your winning number will only be valid for the fiscal year you applied for (for example, if you applied on October 2014, then your process needs to be done during the 2016 fiscal year)
How do I apply?
Start by finding out your case number, or “rank number,” which the Department of State website will provide. You are allowed to submit your application for a green card as soon as a visa becomes available in your regional category according to your rank number. Visas start to become available on October 1st of each fiscal year.
To see whether your rank number has been reached, check the latest Department of State Visa Bulletin at www.travel.state.gov. The Department of State sometimes publishes visa rankings for three months into the future, and they may accept DV adjustment applications 90 days in advance of the actual date that a visa is available, but the visa will not be issued until the rank becomes current.
If your spouse or children will be accompanying you, each of them must file their own green card application.
If you are outside the U.S.
If you're living in a country outside the United States, you will need to file at a local U.S. consulate and attend your visa interview in your home country before entering the United States.
If you are in the U.S.
The most convenient choice for lottery winners living in the U.S. is to adjust their status without leaving.
You will need to send your application to a USCIS Service Center and attend your interview at a local USCIS office. Once your application is filed, your stay in the United States would be considered legal, and you could apply for permission to work. Should problems arise in your case, you would have to await USCIS’s decision in the U.S., and potentially file an appeal.
You are allowed to adjust status only if you are already in the U.S. legally, on a valid, unexpired visa or other form of permission.
How long before I can apply?
The deadline to apply is the end of the fiscal year for the year you were picked. The government fiscal years begin on October 1 and ends on September 30 the following year. If your immigrant visa isn’t issued before the end of the fiscal year for which you were selected, your registration becomes void and you will miss out on your chance for a green card
Although that gives you just over a year to apply, attend your interview, and receive an approval, that’s actually less time than one might expect. In fact, a year is the typical processing time in many consular and Department of State offices.
Remember that the U.S. government selects twice as many winners as there are green cards available. This is because it assumes some of the applicants will either not qualify or will decide not to immigrate after all. If all the winners do, in fact, mail in applications, the green cards will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s possible that even though you win the lottery, if that year’s green card allotment is used up before your own interview is scheduled, you will not receive a green card.
It is important that you get expert help to guide you trough this process. A qualified lawyer will give you details of the visa lottery law and a personal analysis of how best to apply for your green card.