Can I apply for diversity visa if I am in US illegally?Anyone who is from an eligible country and meets the educational and financial requirements can apply for the visa lottery.  That isn’t the issue.  The real problems comes if you are selected who do you claim the prize?An undocumented immigrant is usually not in lawful status.  That makes it difficult to change your status in the U.S.  Usually, that means you have to go through the consular process in your home country.  When you leave the U.S. you will be subject to the 3 and 10 year bar.  If you leave the unites states after having been accrued unlawful presence of more than 180 days (but less than 365) you will be prohibited from returning to the United States for three years.  If you have accrued over 365 days of unlawful presence, that prohibition jumps to ten years.

There are a few exceptions to these rules, for example, some people qualify for the Life Act, referred to as 245i, which expired on April 30, 2001.  This would forgive your unlawful presence and you could adjust in the U.S.  But that becomes rarer every year that passes.

Another option is filing a waiver.  That requires showing extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.  However, if you have a qualifying relative he or she could have filed for you, and thus, the diversity visa wouldn’t be necessary.

Free Resources

Do you need help with the immigration challenge?

  1. Do You Qualify for Legal Status?  Click this link, answer some questions, and in minutes you will learn how to get started on your path to U.S. legal status.
  2. Do You Need an Immigration Attorney? You Might Not–  Learn if you need an immigration attorney.
  3. 7 Critical Questions to ask Before Hiring an Immigration Attorney – Here is how you find the right immigration attorney for your case.

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