2015 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program: The Chance of a Lifetime for Many

On October 1, 2013, the 2015 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program will open and many individuals from around the world will apply. As in prior years, the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program sets aside 50,000 diversity visas for certain potential immigrants that come from countries with “historically low rates of immigration” to the United States. In order to be chosen, a person must meet a set of eligibility guidelines and be selected through the randomized computer drawing.

The guidelines are simple: The first is that the potential immigrant is born in one of the countries listed as eligible to enter. An updated list is published on the U.S. Department of State’s website and includes countries such as Ethiopia. If you are a native of a country that has accounted for more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the last five years, such as Mexico, then you are ineligible to apply. However, even if you are born in an ineligible country, you may still be eligible to enter the visa lottery. There are two exceptions to this requirement. If your spouse was born in a country that is listed as eligible, or if you were born in a country that is ineligible, but your parents were not born in that country or legally residents of that country when you were born. The second requirement is that you have a high school or equivalent level of education or two years of work experience within the past five years at a position that requires a minimum of two years of training or experience.

If a person meets these two eligibility requirements, they must submit their entry for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program online, as paper entries will not be accepted. This shows one major flaw in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program: It only allows online submissions, which may disqualify many individuals based on poverty or access to technology. Another issue that may limit certain applicants is the need to have a high school or equivalent level of education or a certain type of occupation. This may limit access for certain sections of the population because of possible lack of educational options or job positions. Regardless of its shortcomings, the 2015 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program will allow many individuals who may not otherwise have access to the United States the ability to obtain a visa.


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