Diversity Immigrant Visa Program- 5 Things to Know

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program has been in the news lately. The program was established by Congress in 1990 to bring more diverse immigrants into the United States. There has been a push for a while now to do away with the program to use its visa numbers for other preference categories. Here are 5 things to know about the program:

  1. You Must Register for the program almost a year before the results are out. You must include all of your dependents at the time of the application or you risk to be disqualified.
  2. Chosen applicants must submit their applications before the end of the fiscal year, or the application will be deemed abandoned.
  3. There are 50,000 available visas for countries from all over the world. The government draws almost 100,000 names because it anticipates that some winners may not apply or may not qualify. No single country could qualify for more than 7% of the total amount of visas.
  4. The program has been on the chopping block for a long time. In 2008, the Gang of Eight proposed ending the program to increase the visa numbers available for other immigrant categories. The idea resurfaces every time Congress takes a look at immigration reform. So ending the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program was not a novel idea which President Trump proposed last week.
  5. Applicants under the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program go through the same scrutiny, if not more, which other applicants for immigrant visas. I practice this every day. the security background checks that these applicants go through are very cumbersome and take a very long time at the National Visa Center.

There is no evidence that applicants through the program get different treatment for security checks than other applicants. I do agree that the numbers could be used for a different preference category. However, I have met numerous people who were winners in the program and they are wonderful. I think Congress should add more visa numbers to deal with the backlogs instead.

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