USCIS has received enough H-1B petitions to meet both the regular 65,000 cap and the 20,000 master's degree cap. CIS did not say exactly how many petitions were received, USCIS has suggested that the number is lower than last year's 236,000 petitions.
The agency did not say when it will conduct the lottery but, if they follow last year's timing, it could be this week.
Press release: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-reaches-fy-2018-h-1b-cap
Following on this earlier post, the Department of State (DOS) has issued detailed instructions for the 2018 Diversity Lottery. Full details are here.
What is the Diversity Lottery?
The lottery provides permanent residence (green cards) to people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
Is it really a lottery?
Yes. In 2018, there will be 50,000 diversity visas available, but millions will apply. It is estimated that 15 million people applied for the 50,000 visas that were available in 2010!
Who can apply?
People who are born in eligible countries can apply. This includes many countries, except those with high levels of immigration to the US. It is easier to list the ineligible countries, and these are: 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 its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
People born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan can participate. People born in Ireland, including Northern Ireland ARE eligible. Natives of Ecuador are eligible to register for DV-2018, unlike in previous years.
Is there any way I can apply if I was not born in an eligible country?
Yes, if your spouse was born in an eligible country, you can claim that country. Also, you can be “charged” to the country of birth of either of your parents as long as neither of your parents was born in or a resident of your country of birth at the time of your birth.
Do I need any specific education or a job offer?
Applicants must show that they have the equivalent of a US high school education (i.e. 12 years of education) OR demonstrate two years of experience in a job that requires at least 2 years training/experience.
How do I apply?
Applications are made electronically during the prescribed times. It is best to apply early during the entry period, in case of website crashes or other technical problems occur.
Full instructions on the forms are in the DOS link below.
Can I send more than one application, to increase my chances?
The Department of State says that it uses sophisticated technology to identify duplicate applications. People applying more than once will be disqualified.
Do I need a lawyer to help?
No, you do not need a lawyer, notario, consultant, or any other "expert" to help. Be very wary of anyone that claims that they can guarantee you a diversity visa or expedite the process or improve your chances. This is not possible, so don't waste money asking anyone to prepare the forms for you.
When will I know if I have been successful?
The Department of State will start publish the details of successful applicants on their website in May 2017. This is the only way to find out your status. DOS will not notify applicants directly.
Is there any point in applying if the odds are so low?
The odds are low, but they are even lower if you don't apply! 50,000 people will be chosen, and you can't be one of them if you don't apply. I won the diversity visa in 1994, so it can be done!
DOS instructions (pdf)
The US Department of State has announced the dates for the next round of the Diversity Visa lottery here. The online entry registration period for the DV-2018 lottery is between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), on October 4, 2016 and noon EDT on November 7, 2016.
As a "winner" of the lottery myself, 22 years ago, I encourage everyone who is eligible to apply as soon as possible. The odds may be long, but somebody has to win. Good luck!
Full details of DV-2017, including eligible countries, will be posted in a later blog, once these are published.
On 8/31/16, USCIS published a 45-day notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment on the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule. Comments are due by 10/17/16.
The proposed rule would grant parole status to an entrepreneur of a start-up who has an active role in the business. Successful applicants would not have a fixed visa status such as H-1B or E-2. Instead, they would be paroled into the US for 2 years initially, to work for the start-up.
The category differs from investor visas such as E-2 or EB-5, in that the new parole status does not require that the applicant have invested her own money in the business.
1. The entrepreneur must have established a U.S. start-up business within three years before applying for
2. The business must have done some business, and have "substantial potential for rapid growth and
3. The entrepreneur must own at least 15% of the start-up.
4. The entrepreneur be actively involved in managing the business, not be a passive investor.
5. The start-up must have received either (a) investments of at least $345,000 from U.S. investors or
(b) at least $100,000 in grants or awards from qualifying U.S. federal, state or local government entities.
Entrepreneurs who are unable to satisfy the funding criteria may qualify if they provide other compelling evidence of the start-up’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
The private and government funding must meet strict criteria laid out in the regulations, designed to "...mitigate potential misuse of the parole process, including by individuals or entities that may claim to be bona fide investors to conceal fraud or other illicit activity."
The parole could be renewed for another 3 years if the applicant meets certain criteria, similar to the initial requirements. There is no provision for renewals beyond 5 years, and the proposed regulations are silent on how an applicant is expected to stay in the US after the initial 5-year period. The comments to the proposed rule state that "DHS believes that a total maximum 5-year period of parole under this rule (an initial period of up to 2 years, plus one possible re-parole period of up to 3 years) is consistent with the amount of time successful start-up entities generally require to realize their growth potential."
The spouse an minor (under 21) children of an entrepreneur would be granted parole for the same period as the primary applicant. Spouses would be eligible for work authorization.
The entire rule is available at the USCIS website here, and comments can be submitted up to October 17, 2016. For more information, contact Elaine Martin, Dallas Immigration Lawyer.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.