Over the last few days I have been asked to clarify the importance of Marital status and the DV lottery. This point should be simple, but rules vary from country to country – so there is some potential for mistakes which (on marital status) are extremely important to the case. Even though the entry period is over for DV2016, this is important information to clarify to make sure you have not made a crucial mistake.
On the eDV registration (the original entry) you have to indicate your marital status. Making a mistake on these can end your DV lottery dream instantly – so it is critical to get these right! The choices are
- Legally Separated
So – what do those choice mean – here you go…
This means single at the time of the eDV entry and never previously married. This could also mean engaged (because engaged to be married is not married). If you select unmarried and are discovered to have been previously married or married at the time of the entry you will be disqualified.
This means married (in which case you must list your spouse on the eDV entry). If you are separated from your spouse (but that separation is not documented by a court) or estranged or just grumpy with your spouse on the day you enter the lottery then you are married.
So – what do you do if you are married but haven’t seen your spouse in 10 years. Well you still list your spouse, including a photo that meets the requirements if needed. If you win, you simply don’t submit an application (DS260) for your spouse.
How about if you plan to be married shortly after the eDV entry, should you save time and enter married. NO, NO, NO! If you are not married on the day you enter the lottery do not enter as married. If you marry later (during the DV process) there are ways to include your new spouse (as described here) , so don’t make the mistake of claiming marital status without being married – there is no need to risk that (as the risk is disqualification) .
Just a point about “marriage”. The US government recognizes the various forms of marriage around the world. The rough rule is that if the marriage is recognized by the civil authorities in the area where the marriage is performed, and that recognition confers typical rights and privileges of marriage on the couple, then the US government will recognize that marriage for immigration purposes. That applies to any form of legal marriage including same sex marriages.
This means you were married previously, got a divorce (legally recorded through a divorce court) and have not yet remarried – you are currently single. You will need to supply your marriage and divorce documents. If you cannot show the divorce documents you might be assumed to be still married, and in that case you could be disqualified.
This means you were married, your spouse died and you are not currently remarried. You will be asked for proof of the marriage (marriage cert) and the death (death cert).
This is rarely used so you should only select this option if you are certain you are LEGALLY separated. Under this option of the eDV form is the following text:-
“Legal separation means that a court has formally declared that you and your spouse are legally separated. Legal separation means that your spouse would not be eligible to immigrate as your derivative.”
This means you have gone to court and had a separation agreement accepted by the court. This happens when people do not want to divorce yet but need a formal agreement covering things such as who pays for the shared expenses during the separation, access and custody to any children and so on. You will need to show the legal separation document during your interview.
This is not the right option if you have simply separated from your spouse but have not yet divorced. It is my belief that choosing this option when you are not actually legally separated will result in disqualification (because you omit your spouse who should have been on the form.
But I won and my marital situation has changed – is that a problem?
No – life goes on after the eDV entry. You may have got married, divorced, or whatever – so when you submit your DS260 you will do that with your new marital status. However, they will look to prove that you correctly entered your marital status at the time of registration, so you need to make sure your documents are available for the interview and establish the correct timeline.