Can an international student submit an entry to the U.S. Diversity Visa Program?

Can an international student submit an entry to the U.S. Diversity Visa Program?

Administered by the U.S. Department of State, the Diversity Visa Program, also referred to as the Diversity Visa “Lottery”, is offered each year. Individuals have to submit an “entry” via an online registration during a one month window (usually between October-November) for consideration to be selected for the opportunity to apply for immigrant status to the U.S.

Details on the USDOS Diversity Visa Program are available on their “Diversity Visa Instructions” website.

The Diversity Visa Lottery receives millions of entries each year, so it is truly a lottery.

International students can enter the Diversity Visa Lottery, and guidance in the past from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have indicated that simply submitting an entry does not constitute an individual demonstrating “immigrant intent” to the U.S. — which may make an individual no longer eligible to enter the U.S. in a non-immigrant status (including F-1 or J-1 student status, or as a B-1/B-2 tourist status, which are nonimmigrant visa types).

However, if an individual is selected in the lottery to submit an immigrant visa application, if the individual moves forward and submits the immigrant application then they have demonstrated an intent to immigrate to the U.S. and would potentially impact their ability to apply for and/or obtain a nonimmigrant visa status.

If an international student is selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery, before taking any next steps we encourage you to meet with your ISO Advisor, who may also advise that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney before you take any additional action.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Entry to the Diversity Visa Program is FREE and can be done online. There are a number of common scams that try to convince potential applicants that by paying a fee to a company or entity can increase chances of being selected. This is a scam. Individuals can enter on their own and only one entry per year can be submitted. The USDOS Diversity Visa Instructions website has links to warnings about fraud and scams.

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