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Washington DC Green Card Lottery

The green card lottery wheel

gears up Thursday

Wednesday, October 1st 2008, 9:01 PM

The green card lottery entry period starts Thursday at noon. You have until Dec. 2, noon Eastern Standard Time, to submit your entry over the Internet. You may not submit a paper entry.

When you submit your entry, you'll receive an electronic receipt. You'll need a digitized photo of yourself, plus separate photos of your spouse and children under 21. Don't wait until the last day to enter - government computers can get overloaded.

Q. Who's eligible to enter this year's lottery?

A. Natives of all countries except Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan ARE eligible. Note that for DV-2010, Russians are eligible.

Q. Can you explain how the green card lottery works? Entries now, in 2008, are for the DV-2010 lottery. I'm confused.

A. Lottery winners get permanent residence during a fiscal (record-keeping) year that begins Oct. 1 and ends the following Sept. 30. To adequately process lottery winners, the State Department sets the lottery entry period to begin long in advance of when winners can first get legal residence. So the State Department is accepting entries now for individuals who will get permanent residence in the 2010 fiscal year that runs from Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010. The State Department will notify winners of the DV-2010 lottery in spring 2009.

Q. If I'm here illegally, can I get a lottery green card?

A. Maybe. If you qualify to interview here (adjust status) based on a previously filed immigration case, your being here illegally won't keep you from getting a lottery green card. If, however, if you must travel abroad for your permanent residence, you may face a three- or ten-year bar to returning. The law provides for a waiver, but you may not have enough time to get one before your entry year ends.

Q. I won the DV-2009 Lottery. I qualify to adjust status. When can I file my application?

A. You can apply now. The USCIS began accepting adjustment of status applications for winners of the 2009 lottery that began Oct. 1, 2008. DV-2009 winners in the U.S. file their adjustment of status applications at USCIS, P.O. Box 805887, Chicago, IL 60680-4120.

Q. If I win the lottery, does that mean that I definitely get my green card?A. Not necessarily. Each year, the State Department selects more DV winners than there are green cards allotted for that year. If you win, you'll get a number indicating your place in line based on your region. To get a lottery green card, you must get to the front of the line before the end of the fiscal year for which you won.

Q. Besides being from a qualifying country, what are the other requirements for a lottery green card?

A. You must have a high school education from here or abroad. Or you must have worked two of the last five years in a job for which least two years' training or experience is a normal requirement. High school equivalency diplomas do not meet this requirement.

Q. I think I qualify for a lottery green card, but I'm not sure. Should I enter?

A. Yes. You can worry about your qualifications if you win.

Q. Should my spouse and I each file separate applications?

A. All family members who qualify should submit separate lottery applications. If either of you win, you both can get green cards.

Q. If I'm here illegally, will I get in trouble by entering the lottery?

A. I wouldn't worry about it. You need not reveal your immigration status to enter. Some lottery entrants give the State Department a mailing address of a friend, relative or legal representative.

Q. Should I submit more than one entry?

A. The State Department says it catches people who submit multiple entries and disqualifies them.

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