Can I apply even if I’m in the U.S. without legal status (“undocumented”)?
Under current law, a person who is in the U.S. without legal status who wins the DV lottery will not be permitted to apply for their residence from within the U.S. (“adjust status”) unless they had some other legal permanent residence visa petition (family or employment based) filed before April 30, 2001. The DV lottery program is not an amnesty program. If you are undocumented and you receive a notice from DOS that you have won the DV lottery, the notice will instruct you to return to your country for processing. If you follow these instructions and leave the U.S., you will almost certainly not be allowed to return to the U.S. Under current immigration law, anyone who has been in the U.S. without legal status for more than 180 days will be prohibited from returning to the U.S. for three years if he or she leaves. Anyone who has been in the U.S. without legal status for more than one year will be prohibited from returning for ten years if he or she leaves.