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I have a J1 visa. Can I apply to the DV Lottery. And do I need a waiver of the 2 years residency If I win the DV Lottery?

Los Angeles, CA |

I have a Fulbright Scholarship sponsored by the US State Department. Currently I've completed my program of studies and I'm in the States with a J1 visa under post completion training status.

Attorney Answers 4


Before I get to the answer, technically speaking, anybody can APPLY for the DV Lottery. Out of all applicants only one percent are selected. Out of all of those who are selected in the lottery, less than fifty percent are approved for the diversity visa. This is in part due to a failure to comply the Department of State's instructions, but also due to the fact that many people who apply for the DV simply don't meet the DV lottery qualifications. This is a long way of pointing out that being selected alone doesn't cement your status.

Having said that, you wont be able to use the DV lottery to circumvent the intentions of the two year foreign residence requirement of the J-1 visa. If it were that simple other visa mechanisms could be used such as a visitor visa for example instead of a DV. In addition, you might not even be able to extend your J-1 status long enough to be selected, and then long enough to be eventually approved for the Diversity Visa stamp.

To finish with some law, changing your J-1 category requires an objective that is "clearly consistent with and closely related to the participant's original exchange objective, and necessary due to unusual or exceptional circumstances."

A DV selection does not, on its own, overcome this burden.

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Thank you very much. This information is very useful. I will think about it and decide which is the best option to move forward. But it does seem that I will have to ask for a waiver in any case.


My colleague has provided an excellent answer. The application for the lottery is not an immigration application in itself it is like lining up to get a spot inside the airport. If you get a pass into the airport than its the lining up for the boarding pass that creates the application for immigration visa that results in the J1 restrictions kicking in. You shoudl then consult with an experienced immigration atorney for a legal opinion on how to progress. Good luck getting a pass into the airport.

Legal disclaimer: The statement above is provided by CC Abbott is based on general assistance and not intended to be a legal opinion because not all the facts are provided. The person requesting information and all others reading the answer should retain an attorney who is permitted by the state bar within the jurisdiction who can examine the complete facts and provide a legal opinion on your case. All information provided in the above answer and other information provided by CC Abbott does not create an attorney/client relationship within any state of Federal law.

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Yes you can apply for the DV lottery, but you are unlikely to get any waiver of the two year foreign residency requirement in this situation. The DOS has not been granting waivers for under this scenario, i.e. Fulbright Scholars. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney for all your options.

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If you are subject to the two year foreign residency requirement, you will only be able to adjust your status if you timely obtain the required waiver.

You should retain an experienced immigration lawyer to review all the facts and advise you accordingly.

J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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