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Visa Lottery Now Open for Fiscal Year 2014

By Roberta Freedman / Oct 03, 2012

Every year Congress issues 55,000 permanent resident visas (green cards) to randomly selected applicants who complete applications, meet eligibility requirements and are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Applications for the 2014 Diversity Lottery must be submitted electronically between Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12:00 noon (EDT), and conclude on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 12:00 noon (EDT).  Instructions on applying for the Diversity Lottery can be found on the US Department of State website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html .  There is no fee to enter and applicants must only enter once. Our office encourages foreign nationals NOT to pay a fee for assistance with this process, as it does not increase the chances of success. Photographs of the applicant, spouse, and his/her children under age 21 must also be submitted electronically (for specifications, see the instructions). To prevent delays due to heavy demand, it is best not to wait until the last few days to apply. An applicant must be from a qualifying country (see below), and have either a high school education or two years of experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training to perform. Persons must maintain US status if they plan to obtain their green card while remaining in the United States (Adjustment of Status).

Natives of the following countries are ineligible to enter the 2013 Diversity Lottery:  Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.  Guatemala is a new addition to this year's list of countries permitted to apply.  Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.  If a person is a native of one of these ineligible countries but his/her spouse is from a country that is eligible, he/she may be eligible under the spouse's country of birth.

Starting May 1, 2013, applicants will be able to check the status of their DV-2014 entry by returning to www.dvlottery.state.gov , clicking on Entrant Status Check, and entering their unique confirmation number and personal information. Entrant Status Check will be the sole means of informing applicants of their selection for DV-2014, providing instructions to on how to proceed with the application, and notifying applications of their appointments for the immigrant visa interview. Therefore, it is essential to retain the confirmation number.  Paper entries are not accepted.

Diversity visas for Fiscal Year 2014 will be issued between October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014.  If selected, spouses and unmarried children under age 21 may also apply for a green card.

USCIS Undercounting H-1B Cap

According to numbers released by US Citizenship and Immigration Service pursuant to a FOIA request, USCIS has been undercounting H-1B usage by nearly 15% over the last five years. The numbers released by USCIS show approximately 45,000 too few H-1Bs were approved between fiscal year 2008 and 2012.  USCIS should approve 65,000 H-1B visas per year under the H-1B cap. Applications for H-1B visas are closed by USCIS when USCIS estimates how many H-1B cases will be denied that year.   USICS should also add H-1Bs applications that were withdrawn by the employer back to the total number of new H-1B visas issued per year.  USCIS has had inaccurate estimates of their denial rates which has resulted in the undercounting.

Department of Justice Announces Indictment of Hotel Owners

On September 11, 2012, the Department of Justice announced the owners of an Overland Park, Kansas hotel have been indicted on charges of knowingly hiring undocumented aliens who were paid less than other employees and were paid in cash.  The owners were charged with the following:  one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain; five counts of harboring undocumented aliens for personal gain; and four counts of wire fraud.  The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes, including the two hotels.

New Jersey Firm Fined $625,000 for Hiring Unauthorized Workers

On August 8, 2012, ICE announced that a New Jersey firm had been fined $625,000 for hiring undocumented workers.  Following an ICE  investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents the company was fined $625,000 for failing to comply with employment eligibility verification requirements. ICE conducted the audit after receiving an anonymous tip alleging that the company engaged in unlawful hiring practices related to the employment of undocumented workers.  The audit revealed violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and serious deficiencies with the company's employment records. The company reached a final settlement with ICE in July 2012 for the amount of $625,000

Visa Priority Dates - October Visa Bulletin

The October Visa Bulletin has been posted. Visas for employment based second preference cases (EB2) for individuals born in India have moved to September 1, 2004, and for individuals born in China to July 15, 2007.  The EB2 date for those individuals included in the "worldwide" limit is January 1, 2012.  For a summary of priority dates, retrogression, and how these dates impact US green card processing, please visit the Clark Hill website .

Clark Hill has learned, through discussions with the Department of State's Visa Office, the following predictions of future movement by the Department of State's Visa Office.  These are only discussions of what could happen and are not assurances or guarantees by the Visa Office, as changes in visa usage result in changes in the Visa Bulletin.

Employment Based (EB)-1 visa usage has been extremely high, which may mean fewer visas "dropping down" to the EB-2 category, as was the practice in the past.

The retrogression in EB-2 India priority dates back to 2004 (where 2010 dates were seen earlier in 2012) is due in part to heavy usage in this category in 2012 and the high level of EB-1 usage. Slow movement in this category in FY2013 is expected.

EB-2 worldwide, a category that is usually current, is at January 1, 2012, but is likely to move forward to "current" in the next couple of months.

The Visa Office has experienced difficulty with predicting demand because USCIS is not providing data on EB-3 to EB-2 "upgrades."  These upgrades continue to greatly affect movement in the Visa Bulletin each month.