By: Richard Hanus
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Premium Processing Continues for More Categories of H-1B Filings; The Green Card Lottery (DV-2019)Published September 20, 2017
Premium Processing Continues for More Categories of H-1B Filings
In an abrupt about face earlier in the year, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (US DHS/CIS) announced it would put a halt to the availability of the fee-based, expedited, 15 day premium processing service for all H-1B work visa petitions. Slowly but surely though, US DHS/CIS has been reinstituting availability of this service for various types of H-1B petitions, which includes this week’s announcement it would accept premium processing requests for H-1B visa petitions which are now being considered under the fiscal year 2018 cap (for a period of employment commencing October 1, 2017).
H-1B work visas are available for a variety of professional or “specialty occupation” positions, including information technology, engineering, accounting, and scientific and other research.
Previous stages of the reimplementation of premium processing availability for H-1B work visa petitions, include the resumption of premium processing for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, as well as interested “cap exempt” petitions filed by not for profit/university and government agency petitioners.
The Green Card Lottery (DV-2019)
As in years past, millions of people from all over the world will submit entries to have a chance at one of 50,000 diversity immigrant visas and obtain “green card” status in the U.S.
Excluded from eligibility are natives of Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and Vietnam. These specified, excluded countries are considered to be “high admission” nations, and Congress’ purpose in establishing the visa lottery program was to provide immigration U.S. green card opportunities for individuals from countries with lower admission rates. Each year, the calculus in determining which countries are “high admission” is revisited and a new assessment is made year to year.
The entry period for the current visa lottery begins October 3, 2017 and continues through noon (EST) Monday, November 7, 2017. Entries will be accepted only by way of the Department of State’s visa lottery website: www.dvlottery.state.gov. After registration, each applicant will be given their own unique confirmation number. No paper entries are accepted, and each individual applying is allowed only a single entry. Applicants entering more than once will be disqualified.
Individuals who are picked will ultimately be eligible to enter the U.S. – along with their spouse and under 21 year old children (or adjust their status, if they are already in the U.S. and are otherwise eligible) – during the 2019 fiscal year which runs from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.
There is no fee to enter the visa lottery, and entrants will be able to learn of the success or failure of their effort starting May 1, 2018 via online case status check. Specifically, the applicant must visit www.dvlottery.state.gov. and click Entrant Status Check, and enter the unique confirmation number provided to them at the time of their registration.
Other important tidbits and warnings for prospective applicants:
1) The only time an applicant will be asked to submit a fee is after his entry has been chosen and it is requested by the State Department in the context of the processing of his immigrant visa.
2) Applicants who receive a congratulatory or “winning” email should know that it is a fraud and avoid getting caught up in such a predatory scam! Only internet sites that have a “.gov” suffix can be counted on as an official government website. Websites or email addresses with suffixes such as: “.com”, “.org”, “.net” or others that do not end with “.gov” must be approached with skepticism and where there is a “too good to be true” or “special insider insight” type sell job accompanying the message or website.
3) Straight forward instructions about the entry process are available at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Accordingly, beware of websites or companies charging any type of fee to consult or offer “special inside assistance” with the process!
4) Winners are chosen randomly, and again, there is no initial application fee.
5) Applicants must have either a high school education or its equivalent, OR two years of experience working in a “skilled” position within the past 5 years (details on what types of positions qualify are included on the visa lottery website noted above).
6) There is a limitation of one application per individual. However, qualifying individuals in the same household may submit individual applications.
7) Applicants can be living in the U.S. or abroad.
8) Those picked as winners are eligible to have their spouse and children under 21 years of age join in on receiving the same green card benefits. Siblings, married children and parents of winners do not stand to derive immigration benefits.
9) A digital photograph of the applicant taken within the preceding 6 months must accompany the application. The photograph must comply with specified guidelines and requirements set forth in the above DV Visa Loterry website.
Further information, including Frequently Asked Questions/Answers, about the 2019 DV Visa Lottery Program can be accessed at www.travel.state.gov.PUBLISHED September 20, 2017– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2017, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois