Diversity Visa Program

IMPORTANT

On Wednesday, April 22, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending entry into the United States of certain immigrants who present risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak. The proclamation was effective at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 23. It was continued by President Trump on June 22, and will expire on December 31, 2020, unless continued. Applicants for immigrant visas covered by the proclamation, including ​Diversity Visa applicants, who have not been issued an immigrant visa as of April 23 are subject to the proclamation’s restrictions unless eligible for an exception. No valid visas will be revoked under this proclamation.

 

Introduction

The Diversity Visa (DV) Program was mandated by the U.S. Congress in order to address the historically low number of immigrants from certain countries. Normally, a prospective immigrant must have a family member already in the U.S. in order to benefit from an Immigrant Visa petition, but the DV Program grants eligibility to apply for a visa to qualified persons even if they do not have a qualifying relative in the United States. Thus, a Diversity Visa should be considered in the same light as an Immigrant Visa, although with a different source and qualification process. Because many more people apply for the program each year than there are available visas, selection is made at random by a computer – hence the popular name “Visa Lottery.”

It must be clearly understood that being selected to participate in the DV program does not guarantee that the applicant will be issued a visa. The standards for qualification are simple, but strictly enforced. In place of the family relationship, each applicant must demonstrate either a sufficient level of education or a combination of qualifying skills and work experience, and must meet all other eligibility criteria for an immigrant to the U.S.

There is no cost to register for the DV Program. All entries for the DV must be submitted electronically on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website at dvprogram.state.gov during the specified registration period. The law allows only one entry by or for each person during each registration period. You are strongly encouraged to complete the entry form yourself, without a “Visa Consultant,” “Visa Agent,” or other facilitator who offers to help. If somebody else helps you, you should be present when your entry is prepared so that you can provide the correct answers to the questions and retain the confirmation page and your unique confirmation number.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program requires the principal DV applicant to have a high school education, or its equivalent, or two years of qualifying work experience as defined under provisions of U.S. law.

If you do not have either the required education or qualifying work experience, you are not eligible for a diversity visa. (Only you, as the principal applicant, must meet this requirement. Your spouse and children do not have to meet this requirement.) You should consider not pursuing a DV application if you do not meet the qualifying education or work experience requirements explained below as you may not be eligible for a diversity visa and any fees you pay for the visa application will not be refunded.

High School Education: A high school education means successful completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a 12-year course in the United States.  Only formal courses of study meet this requirement; equivalency certificates (such as the G.E.D.) are not acceptable.

Work Experience: If you are qualifying with work experience, you must have two years of experience in the last five years, in an occupation which, by U.S. Department of Labor definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher.

The U.S. Department of Labor provides information on job duties, knowledge and skills, education and training, and other occupational characteristics on their website http://www.onetonline.org/. The O*Net online database groups work experience into five “job zones.” While many occupations are listed, only two years of experience in certain specified occupations qualify an individual for a Diversity Visa.

Passport Requirement: Beginning with entries for DV-2022, the Department of State’s regulations require all entrants to provide a valid passport number at the time of DV entry, unless they are unable to obtain a passport and fall under one of three limited exemptions. You should consider not pursuing a DV application if you listed a false or invalid passport number on your DV entry, or if you selected an exemption from the passport requirement and you did not meet the requirements for that exemption, as you may not be eligible for a diversity visa and any fees you pay for the visa application will not be refunded.

Exemptions from the Passport Requirement: The Department of State’s regulations provide for three limited exemptions from the passport requirement.  These three exemptions include: individuals who are stateless, nationals of a Communist-controlled country who are unable to obtain a passport from the government of the Communist-controlled country, and beneficiaries of individual waivers approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State. If you selected one of these exemptions on your DV entry, you will be required to explain how you meet one of the three exemptions. The exemptions apply only to individuals who are unable to obtain a passport.

  • Stateless Individuals: In general, statelessness is a rare situation. If on your DV entry you checked the box corresponding to this exemption, you must provide evidence to establish that you did not acquire the nationality of your country of birth under the laws of that country and that you do not have any other nationality.
  • Nationals of a Communist-controlled country: If, on your DV entry, you checked the box corresponding to this exemption, you must provide evidence to establish that you are unable to obtain a passport from the government of your country of nationality.
  • Beneficiaries of individual waivers: If, on your DV entry, you checked the box corresponding to this exemption, you must provide evidence that you are unable to obtain a passport, and the reason you should receive an individual passport waiver, such as:
    1)    A previous U.S. visa issued to you on form DS-232 because you were unable to obtain a passport, and that the same reasons that you previously sought a passport waiver still apply;
    2)    Form I-193 approved by USCIS because you were unable to obtain a passport, and that the same reasons that you previously sought a passport waiver still apply; or
    3)    Documentation showing that you have been granted refugee status in a country other than your country of nationality because you have been persecuted by the government of your country of nationality, making it impossible for you to obtain a passport from that government without experiencing further harm.

After you submit a complete entry, you will see a confirmation screen containing your name and a unique confirmation number. Print this confirmation screen for your records. It is extremely important that you retain your confirmation number. It is the only way you can check the status of your entry, and you will need it to obtain further instructions or schedule an interview for a visa if you are selected.

On or about May 7, information on the Entrant Status Check on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website is updated to inform all entrants if their online registration was selected or not. You will need to enter your confirmation number, which you obtained when you filled out your entry form, to check your entry status. If you have lost your confirmation number, you will not be able to check the status of your entry. We will not be able to resend the confirmation number to you.  Please note: The Department of State will not mail notification letters or notify selectees by email.  U.S. embassies and consulates will not provide a list of selectees.  Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website is the ONLY means by which the Department of State notifies selectees of their selection.

If your entry is selected, you will be directed to a confirmation page that will provide further instructions, including information on fees connected with immigration to the United States. Entrant Status Check is the ONLY means by which selectees are notified of their selection. The Department of State does not mail out notification letters or notify selectees by email, and U.S. Embassies and Consulates will not provide a list of selectees. Individuals who have not been selected also will be notified ONLY through Entrant Status Check.

Please be aware that KCC can only tell you if your form has been processed. KCC cannot tell you whether or not you or your family members are eligible for diversity visas. Only the consular officer who interviews you can make that decision.

Based on U.S. law, not everyone who applies for a visa will be found eligible to come to the United States. There are a number of possible reasons why someone might not qualify for a visa. The circumstances of each case are different. Approved visas generally are not available on the day of interview.

It is important that you do not make arrangements such as selling your house, car or property, resigning from your job or making non-refundable flight or other travel arrangements until you have received your immigrant visa.

Selected entrants are encouraged to complete the online Form DS-260 application immediately to schedule an interview appointment at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You will need to enter your DV case number into the online DS-260 form to access and update the information about yourself and your family that you included in your DV entry.

If your family circumstances have changed after you entered the Diversity Visa program, for example, if you have gotten married or had a child, you will need to add your new family members to your case. (“Family member” refers to a spouse and/or unmarried children who had not reached age 21 before you entered the DV program.) When adding family members to your case, you will need to upload a document to prove your relationship to the family member being added.

Important note: If you had a spouse or children prior to submitting your original entry, but you did not include them on your original entry form, such errors may render you, as well as any of your family members, ineligible for a diversity visa. If you listed a spouse or child on your original entry who was not your spouse or child at the time of entry, such errors may render you, as well as any of your family members, ineligible for a diversity visa. As indicated in the prior paragraph, if your family circumstances have legitimately changed after submitting your original entry, you should add those family members and all family members’ applications will be reviewed.

After KCC receives and processes the DS-260 application form for you and your accompanying family members, you will receive instructions for how to submit required supporting documents. Your interview will not be scheduled until you submit scanned copies of all required supporting documents. You will bring the original documents to your interview with the consular officer.  It is strongly recommended that you begin this process early.

The applicant and each family member who will accompany the applicant to the United States will need to submit scanned copies and any required translations of original documents or certified copies of the documents listed below from an appropriate office, authority, or issuing entity in your country.  You will be required to bring the original documents to your visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate, along with any translations required.

For more information visit: travel.state.gov

After you have been notified of your scheduled interview, you will need to take the following important steps in advance of the interview date:

  1. Carefully Review your scheduling information.
  2. Review U.S. Embassy or Consulate Interview Instructions.
  3. Schedule and Complete a Medical Examination.
  4. Gather Photographs and All Remaining Required Documents.

You (and each family member applying for a visa with you) are required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized physician in the country where you will be interviewed. You must complete your medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your scheduled visa interview date. When your medical exam is completed, if you are given a medical exam envelope, you must bring it sealed (not opened) to your visa interview. Some physicians will send the medical exam results directly to the embassy or consulate.

For more information visit: travel.state.gov

You, your spouse, and any qualified unmarried children immigrating with you must participate in the interview. If your spouse and/or qualified unmarried children will immigrate at a later date and travel separately from you, they are not required to participate in your interview. They will be scheduled for a separate interview appointment. You should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly to arrange separate interviews, if needed.

  • Diversity Lottery Application–No Fee
  • There is no fee to register for the Diversity Visa Program.

Diversity Visa fee

  • The current fee for the Diversity Visa is $330 (currently 195,000 CFA) for the applicant and each derivative (spouse and/or child). The applicant must pay the fee directly at the Consular Cashier Window, in cash, before the interview. Current fees for all types of immigrant visas can be found here.

USCIS Immigrant fee

  • All individuals issued immigrant visas overseas must pay a $165.00 USCIS Immigrant Fee to USCIS before traveling to the United States. Only prospective adoptive parents whose child(ren) is/are entering the United States under either the Orphan or Hague Process, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants who were employed by the U.S. government, returning residents, and those issued K visas are exempt from the new fee. If you have further questions, the USCIS website has more details on this fee, including contact information for USCIS.

At the end of your immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the consular officer will inform you whether your visa application is approved or denied.

Visa approval – When approved, you will be informed how and when your passport and visa will be returned to you.

Visa denial – If denied, you will be informed why you are ineligible to receive a visa. There is additional information about visa denials here.

(Visa Approval) When You Receive Your Visa

Passport with Visa – Your diversity visa will be placed on a page in your passport. Please review the printed information right away to make sure there are no errors. If there are any spelling errors, contact the embassy or consulate promptly.

Sealed Immigrant Packet – You will also receive a sealed packet containing documents that you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a port-of-entry (often an airport) upon your arrival in the United States. You must not open the sealed packet.

When You Should Travel – You must arrive and apply for admission in the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. A diversity visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for less than six months.

USCIS Immigrant Fee – You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, returning residents (SB-1s), and those issued K visas are exempt from this fee. Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information. Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

The law establishing the DV program limits the list of eligible countries to those countries from which fewer than 50,000 persons in various visa categories immigrated to the United States during the previous five years. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) modifies the list of eligible countries for each year’s DV program on the basis of this five-year calculation.

Countries whose natives are ineligible for DV-2022 are BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (including Hong Kong SAR), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, HONDURAS, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, NIGERIA, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM. A “native” ordinarily means someone born in a particular country, regardless of the individual’s current country of residence or nationality. Persons born in Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.

Assistance: