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Diversity visa lottery website issues leave applicants confused

An apparent technical glitch or outage affecting the U.S. State Department's Diversity Visa lottery website left countless potential immigrants applying for the 2019 visas scratching their heads. The lottery people initially opened on October 3, scheduled to run until November 7.

Technical/system problems led officials to close the lottery period - and shut down the website - on October 10. News releases reveal that all application information submitted during that time was lost. People who applied between October 3 and October 10 have to resubmit all information.

The site, and the lottery, have now both reopened (as of noon on October 18). This means that applications are once again being accepted for the 2019 lottery visa program. The submission period now runs until noon (Eastern standard time) on November 22. For consideration in the lottery, applications are due before the deadline.

What is the diversity visa program?

This program, also known as the "Green Card lottery" started with the Immigration Act of 1990. It allows people from countries underrepresented in granted visas in recent years to apply for passage to America and a path to permanent residency (a green card). Fifty-thousand visas are available each year. They are distributed to six various geographic areas, and no individual country can represent more than seven percent of visas available for any given year.

Residents of one of the countries named in President Trump's latest "travel ban" (Venezuela, Somalia, Chad, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and Yemen), are technically ineligible, but some experts still advise them to apply. Visas won't be issued until October 1, 2018, so there is a chance that the ban will expire prior to then, or courts could rule it unconstitutional.

Like any other immigration-related issue, getting a diversity visa can be difficult. The vetting process is extensive, and the requirements are strict. Reaching out to an experienced immigration attorney can make the visa application process less stressful and could statistically increase your chances of success.

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