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How Any Immigrant Can Adjust Their Status While In the US Through Visa Lottery or Diversity Visa

In this blog post, I will explain to you how the US Diversity Lottery program works.

First, if you are new to the world of immigration, you need to know that the United States publishes a waiting list(this is usually updated) every year for immigrants. Though, this list is subject to a quota system and members of this list are eligible for the annual Diversity Visa program. The annual DV program makes visas available through a computer-generated, random drawing to persons meeting simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. 

This list is called the Visa Bulletin. You can get this list on the United States Department of State website.

Immigrants to the United States are usually grouped into persons who need a waiting list and persons who do not need a waiting list. For those visas that require a waiting list, a certain number of visas become available on an annual basis. For example, as of October 21st, 2020 for instance, they have 350 slots available to South Americans.

So if after checking the current visa bulletin you have a number above 350 and you are already in the US, you can adjust your visa while in the US. The available slots will go up to 475 in November. The numbers will keep going up till the quota for 2020 is exhausted. 

If based on your checks you find out that your number on the visa bulletin is less than 350 and you are already in the United States, you can adjust your visa status while in the United States. That way you can obtain a permanent residence through the DV Program.

Change of status is only available to certain qualifying immigrants. It is a process that allows them to change their status from non-immigrant (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) while being in the United States.

Truth is, as an immigrant, you cannot be in the United States undocumented because you need to be “in status”. You cannot adjust your status when you are not “in-status”. This also applies when you overstay your tourist visa, you cannot adjust your status through the diversity visa program because technically you are not in status.  If you’re married to a permanent resident, can file a waiver for your unauthorized presence based on the hardship to your spouse. But you’d have to consular process your immigrant visa, whether it’s a diversity visa, or through the marriage petition of your spouse.

If you’re already in the United States and eligible for adjustment of status, you can initiate the process on the USCIS website. If you’re already out of status for less than six months, you will need to process the diversity visa abroad. 

Worthy of mention is that a 10-year visa does not mean that you can be in the United States for 10 years if you’re given six months on a tourist visa. And so once you’re in the United States, six months in a day, you are out of status which disqualifies you from using the diversity visa program. In this case, you will probably process the diversity visa abroad. 

If you’re out of status for six months to a year, there’s a three-year ban against you coming back to the United States and if you’re out of status for more than a year, then there’s a 10-year ban against you coming back. 

Another thing you should know is that the definition of being in status can change. Here are three scenarios: The first one is, when you enter the United States on a tourist visa,  you’ve got six months after which you can no longer file for a diversity visa while in the United States. 

The second scenario is:  you’re in the United States on your tourist visa, you’ve got a valid visa number to adjust your status. Under this case, you can file for a diversity visa before the end of six months. 

Third Scenario: let’s say you come into the United States on a tourist visa and before the end of the six months you have filed for your asylum case. First, you need to understand that sometimes, asylum cases are called very quickly and the process is such that the last cases are called first, but if at a point everybody filling for the asylum is a newbie, there could be a backlog. With the uncertainty of your asylum case being filed, you can file for a diversity visa.

Do you have any questions about  the Diversity Visa Lottery Call us today on 904-999-4928 or send us an email at

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The content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon any information presented on this blog without seeking professional legal counsel. The opinions expressed at or through this blog are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney. Please consult with an attorney regarding your specific legal situation.

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