Many aspiring immigrants to the United States choose to participate in the annual Diversity Visa Lottery, which is commonly known as the Green Card Lottery. For want-to-be immigrants, who do not have family members living in the country or employment-based opportunities, the Green Card Lottery is the only feasible option to pursue a U.S. visa because of its availability to a very wide range of people who must satisfy only basic requirements.
If you are one of these hopeful applicants, the question arises: “When should I apply?”
There is much confusion created by the deadline and there are important considerations to make when deciding when the best time is to submit your Green Card Lottery application. In this short overview, we will discuss four important concepts to understand about the registration deadline.
To begin, it is best to think of an application window rather than a registration deadline for the Green Card Lottery. Yes, there is a final “apply-by” date for each year’s program, but applications are accepted during a range of dates, or window period, during which all registrations must be officially submitted to the U.S. Government.
This registration window generally lasts about one month and occurs between October and November each year. The exact start and end dates are different every year. The dates are usually announced by press release about one or two weeks before the beginning of each year’s program, and this announcement is not widely publicized.
In other words, interested applicants must remain vigilant and mindful of checking proper sources so as not to lose track of the year’s Green Card Lottery registration period.
Even when the lottery dates are announced by the U.S. State Department, which administers the program, the dates are not necessarily written in stone. Technical glitches do occur that can lead to shifts in start and end dates.
For example, as recently as 2017, the registration dates were changed midway through the original application window. The DV-2019 program was scheduled to begin on October 3 and end on November 7, but a technical problem with the Visa Lottery system caused the loss of data for all applications that had been submitted between October 3 and10. All entries that had been received up until that date were invalidated and a new registration window was announced: October 18 through November 22.
Sadly, an unknown number of applicants were not informed or did not learn that they needed to reapply and, therefore, lost their opportunity to participate in that year’s DV program.
The lesson here is that even after submitting a DV entry, the applicant must continue to monitor the status and progress of the program in the event a problem develops that requires a resubmission.
Another important idea to keep in mind about registering during the application window is that the online registration system is not always available to take registrations. In several previous lotteries, the government website has been overwhelmed by incoming traffic, become unreachable because of network problems, or experienced outages because of maintenance issues. This has usually happened towards the opening of the yearly registration period, when high numbers of applicants attempt to access the website early, and during the closing days and hours of the yearly period, again, when last-minute applicants hustle to get their DV entries in on time before the deadline.
Website accessibility has often lasted for days or hours, thwarting potential applicants’ efforts to register to the DV Lottery, either because they give up trying or because the deadline passes.
The risk of DV Lottery website inaccessibility for technical matters should be of prime concern to all applicants, especially those who wait until the final days to apply.
Another type of complication involves the real Visa Lottery deadline. Many applicants decide to register in the final days of the registration window. As described above, this has often led to failures of the Green Card Lottery registration website. With so many last-minute applicants trying to access the website, it simply stops functioning. In many cases, those who have waited until the last moment to apply end up locked out of the lottery because they are unable to apply before the deadline.
The U.S. State Department admitted that waiting to apply until the end of the registration period poses real risks. As far back as 2005, in a press release announcing the dates for the 2007 Diversity Visa Lottery, the Department advised applicants to “apply early” and noted that “excessive demand [by a large volume of applicants] at the end of the registration period could slow the system down.”
Even without glitches with the registration website, there is another important consideration to make when deciding the best time to apply. Many applicants who wait until the October-November registration period to submit their application learn that they do not have all the application components needed to complete an application.
Maybe they are missing photos of family members for whom they cannot easily obtain pictures, or the photos they do have do not satisfy the government requirements. Others might learn that the passport they are holding is not valid for the Visa Lottery application they are completing. Perhaps questions arise about country eligibility or which family members to include.
Because of the limited time that is available when an applicant waits until the last minute to start the application process, there might not be sufficient time to gather required items or answer important questions before the registration deadline passes. Hastily assembled applications are also highly prone to mistakes that can disqualify the lottery entry.
So, what should you do? The simple conclusion is that it is best to apply as early as possible. Using a reputable and duly organized service like USA Green Card guarantees that your DV entry is ready for submission during the correct submission period (and is resubmitted in cases when that is needed), attempts to submit your entry to the official program are made continuously until successful (in the event the government website is down or not responding), and sufficient time is devoted to guarantee that your entry is complete and error-free (avoiding last-minute scramble in the application process). All applicants receive an official U.S. Government confirmation number, as proof of successful entry.
Take the time now to prepare an early registration for the Green Card Lottery. USA Green Card accepts applications all year long!
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