Each year the U.S. Department of State ("DOS") runs a lottery program that encourages "seed" immigration from countries that have been under-represented in recent immigration trends. U.S. immigration law makes 55,000 Diversity Visas (DV) available each fiscal year to persons from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. DOS will open the DV-2012 Diversity Visa Lottery program registration period on Tuesday, October 5, 2010. Applicants must submit entries for the DV-2012 lottery electronically between noon on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 and noon on Wednesday, November 3, 2010, Eastern Time.

The link to the application form, E-DV, can be found here. Detailed information about the entry requirements as well as answers to frequently asked questions may be located here. Starting next year, DOS will use a new system to notify DV winners.” From May 1, 2011 onward, DV-2012 applicants will be able to use their unique confirmation number provided upon registration to check online through Entry Status Check at www.dvlottery.state.gov to determine if they have been selected. DOS will also administer instructions and appointments for immigrant visa interviews through that portal.

Our clients and friends should be aware that many scam artists and identity thieves create websites and send emails claiming they can register applicants and boost their odds of being selected. Such claims are patently false. Anyone can go to DOS’ DV website to register according to the rules, and using a vendor to accomplish initial registration will not positively influence one’s odds. Persons selected under the DV program should at least consider retaining an immigration lawyer because the rules for using the selection to gain permanent residence are deceptively complex, and DOS alerts approximately 90,000 winners for only 55,000 slots, making getting through the process as efficiently and nimbly as possible important to increase the odds that a selection will result in attainment of permanent residence status.