2021 U.S. Green Card Lottery News as well as Updates on Rules for H-4 Spouses

Published on: Sep 27, 2019, Last Edited: Sep 27, 2019 | Tags: Green Card, USA Immigration

Introduction

The US State Department has announced that the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, popularly known as the Visa Lottery, is set to go ahead for 2021. 55,000 people and their families from all over the world will be given the chance to achieve a green card and legally immigrate to the USA. the lucky winners are chosen by a process of random selection and it is completely free to register to enter the lottery. According to a guide to entering the lottery created by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, The period for entry to the green card lottery for 2021 runs between October 2, 2019, and November 5, 2019.

The Diversity Visa Program was created to offer permanent resident visas (green cards) to foreign nationals of countries with lower than average rates of immigration to the US in the previous five year period. The State Department distributes these visas between six regions of the world and applicants must fulfil strict but very straightforward eligibility requirements in order to qualify.

The applicant must have been born in one of the qualifying countries. For this registration period, this excludes natives of many countries, including Brazil Bangladesh, mainland China, Canada, Colombia, Nigeria, Mexico, Pakistan, South Kores, Philippines, Vietnam and UK (Northern Irish citizens may still apply). The applicant must have graduated from high school with a diploma or the equivalent or must have had work experience for at least two years out of the past five in a sector that requires at least two years’ training.

In this year’s 2020 DV 2020 lottery registration, over 23 million people - the applicants themselves and their families or derivatives as they are known legally - applied for USA immigration. The countries that were awarded the great number of green cards this year were Russia and Egypt.

Entering the 2021 visa lottery

Citizens of foreign countries can register their details and submit their application electronically at dv.lottery.state.gov as soon as the period opens; the entry process is free. It is important to submit the application as soon as possible as there is always very high demand and later in the process, the web pages may slow down or even crash due to volume of traffic.

Once the online registration is complete, the applicant should be able to see a confirmation screen with a unique number that must be printed out to verify if they have been chosen. Applicants will be able to check their status online from 5 May 2020 to 30 September 2021.

According to figures from USCIS, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, most winners of the green card lottery are residing outside of the US, but some will already be living here under another legal status such as a non-immigrant visa.

New requirements for green card lottery applicants

For the first time since the green card lottery was established, applicants are required to possess a valid, unexpired passport. In previous rounds, applicants did not need to have a passport prior to applying but would still need one for their interview at their country’s US consulate or embassy.

It was explained by the State Department that the change was needed because of the large number of fraudulent applications. Criminal organisations sometimes submit applications without the consent or even knowledge of individuals as part of a scam. Applicants are strongly encouraged to fill in the online registration in person. Should they need any help, they should be present when the registration takes place so that they are sure that the correct information is available. 

Work ban rule for H-4 spouses unlikely to be published before spring

The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has hinted that a new rule banning the paid employment of husbands and wives of H-1B workers who are in the process of applying for green cards will not come into force before spring 2020 at the earliest. H1-B visas are intended for workers in sectors that require specialised skills.

A federal appeals court is currently hearing a challenge to the work authorisation given to spouses of H-1B workers by President Obama in 2015. Lawyers in the case have been told that spring 2020 is the earliest possible date for publication of the new ruling and that even this date is optimistic.

Changes to the H-4 visa changes are the result of President Trump targetting the H-1B visa. Denials of this visa have increased dramatically, especially for companies outsourcing tech jobs to Indian and Chinese workers. Leading Silicon Valley companies rely heavily on foreign workers but critics of the H-1B visa say that this leads to wages being driven down and US workers being supplanted.

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