Last month, President Trump made several assertions about the diversity visa (DV) program. One of his major claims was that foreign governments get to pick who enters the U.S. on DVs and would choose to send violent criminals to the U.S.

President Trump alluded that one DV immigrant “has 7 convictions for death. He’s killed 9 people.”

But does the law support these assertions? To answer that, you must understand what the DV program does and what its requirements are.

What Is the Diversity Visa Program?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Section 203(c), the U.S. grants visas for “diversity immigrants.” Diversity immigrants come from countries where immigration to the U.S. was historically low. Examples include countries like Russia and China, because their government policies restricted their citizens from traveling to the U.S. throughout the Cold War.

There are a limited number of DVs available per year (about 50,000). DVs are randomly awarded among applicants from 6 different regions around the world. Applications are completed online.

As for President Trump’s claim that foreign governments determine who enters the country on Diversity visas, Jeffrey Gorsky – former Chief of the Legal Advisory Opinion section of the Visa Office in the Department of State – had this to say: “individuals apply for the lottery online and selections are made randomly in the U.S. so other governments have no role in determining who wins a DV visa.”

What Are the Requirements for Getting a DV?

You are eligible for DV immigration if you meet the following requirements:

  1. You were born in a qualifying country;
  2. You have a high school education or equivalent, or have two years of work experience in a job requiring at least 2 years of training to perform;
  3. You are admissible to the United States.

Essentially, a person is admissible for entry into the U.S. if there are no grounds that make them inadmissible.

The INA delineates the following grounds for inadmissibility:

  1. Health-related grounds;
  2. Criminal-related grounds;
  3. Security-related grounds;
  4. Inadmissibility for violations of immigration law or procedure;
  5. The public-charge ground; and
  6. Other grounds.

Thus, even if you qualify for selection through the DV program, you may not immigrate to the U.S. if you are deemed inadmissible based on these grounds. For example, under the INA, anyone convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude is ineligible for a visa. As a result, President Trump’s assertion that someone with “7 convictions for death” may take advantage of the DV program is inaccurate.

Consult an Experienced Immigration Attorney

Dealing with the complicated U.S. immigration system can be discouraging. Here at the Smith Law Offices, LLC, our experienced immigration lawyers can help you manage a range of issues, from applying for green cards to waivers of inadmissibility.

Please contact the Smith Law Offices, LLC online, or call (636) 400-1177 so we can evaluate your case.

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