The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently released information regarding the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program (DV-2009) for fiscal year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009). The DOS will make available 50,000 “green cards” annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DOS delayed issuing the instructions for the DV-2009 Lottery Program for the release of a General Accounting Office (“GAO”) report on the program and its vulnerability to fraud. In the pas years, the DOS has released its instructions for the Lottery Program at least two months prior to the commencement of the lottery. However, as indicated in our previous Immigration Update, the GAO recently released its report at the end of September. Although the report criticized various aspects of the Lottery Program, the DOS at least for this year has not made significant modifications to the Program.
The annual DV Lottery Program makes “green cards” available to foreign nationals meeting certain eligibility requirements. Applicants for Diversity Visas are chosen by a computer-generated random lottery drawing, The Diversity Visa “green cards”, however, are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration and with no visas going to citizens of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. Within each region, no country may receive more than 7% of the available Diversity Visa “green cards” in any one year.
Countries Ineligible to Participate in DV-2009 Lottery Program
For the DV-2009 Lottery Program, natives of the following 20 countries are not eligible to apply because they are the principal source countries of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration, or “high admission” countries: Brazil, Canada, China (Mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salva Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica,Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (which includes Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcaim, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands – but not Northern Ireland), and Vietnam. Foreign nationals born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery. (Please note that Ecuador and Guatemala were added to the list of countries not qualified for the DV program for this year.) A list of the countries whose natives are qualified for the DV-2009 Visa Lottery Program is contained in Exhibit A below.
The entries for the DV-2009 Lottery Program must be submitted electronically between noon (E.S.T.) Wednesday, October 4, 2007 through noon (E.S.T.) Sunday, December 3, 2007. The DOS will not accept mail-in entries. Instead, the DOS will only accept entries made on an electronic diversity entry form which will be available at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the 60-day registration period. Please note that the law allows only one entry by or for each person during each registration period. Receipt of more than one entry per person will disqualify the person from registration, regardless of the source of the entry. The procedures for submitting an entry in the DV-2009 Lottery Program are as follows:
Entry Form Contents. The DOS will only accept completed Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Forms submitted electronically at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the 60-day registration period beginning October 3, 2007. All entries by an applicant will be disqualified if more than one entry for the applicant is received,regardless of who submitted the entry. The entry form will ask the applicant to submit the following information:
- Full name;
- Date of birth;
- City/town of birth;
- Country of birth;
- Country of eligibility or chargeability;
- Attaching the applicant’s photograph according to the previously described specifications described below;
- Current mailing address;
- Country where you live today;
- Phone number (optional);
- Email address (optional);
- Highest level of education completed;
- Marriage status;
- Number of children that are unmarried and under the age of 21 years of age. (Failure to list all children, who are eligible, will result in disqualification of the principal applicant and refusal of all visas in the case at the time of the visa interview.);
- Spouse’s information, including name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, country of birth and spouse’s photograph that meets the previously described specifications. (Failure to list your spouse will result in disqualification of the principal applicant and refusal of all visas in the case at the time of the visa interview.);
- Each child’s information including name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, country of birth and photograph that meets the previously described specifications. The DOS emphasizes that failure to list all children will result in the disqualification of the entry form.
- No signature required. The signature requirement on the entry form has been eliminated due to the new electronic entry form.
Photograph Requirements. The entry will be disqualified if photographs are not submitted of the applicant, his/her spouse and each child under the age of 21 (including all natural children as well as legally-adopted and stepchildren, except a child who is already a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) even if the child no longer resides with the applicant and does not intend to immigrate under the DV-2009 Lottery Program. The photographs must be submitted electronically with the entry form. Group or family photos will not be accepted. There must be a separate photo for each family member. Each applicant, his/her spouse and each child will therefore need a computer file containing his/her digital photograph which will be submitted online with the entry form. The image file can be produced either by taking a new digital photograph or by scanning a photographic print with a digital scanner. The submitted digital images must conform to the following specifications:
- The image must be in the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) format;
- The image must be either in color or gray scale (monochrome images will not be accepted);
- If a new digital photograph is taken, it must have a resolution of at least 320 pixels high by 240 pixels wide and a color depth of 24-bit color;
- If a photographic print is scanned, the print must be 2” x 2” square, must be scanned at a resolution of at least 150 dots per inch, must have image resolution of 300 by 300 pixels, and with a color depth of 24-bit color.
- The maximum image size accepted will be 62,500 bytes;
- The applicant, spouse or child must be directly facing the camera;
- The head of the person being photographed must directly face the camera and should not be tilted up, down or to the side;
- The head should cover about 50% of the area of the photograph;
- The photograph should be taken with the person being photographed in front of a neutral, lightcolored background (photographs taken with a very dark or patterned background will not be accepted);
- Photographs in which the face of the person being photographed is not in focus will not be accepted;
- Photographs in which the person being photographed is wearing sunglasses or other paraphernalia which detracts from the face will not be accepted; and
- Photographs of applicants wearing head coverings or hats are only acceptable due to religious beliefs and still may not obscure any portion of the face of the applicant.
DOS Processing of Entries
After an applicant submits his/her entry, the DOS will send him/her an electronic confirmation notice of receipt of a completed entry form. Applicants will be selected at random by computer from among qualified entries. Those selected will be notified by mail between five and seven months from the end of the application period to the address indicated on the entry and will be provided further instructions, including information on fees connected with immigrating to the United States. Applicants not selected will not receive any notification. The DOS normally notifies approximately 100,000 applicants that they have been selected through the DV Lottery Program. However, only 50,000 “green cards” are available annually. The green cards based upon the DV-2009 Lottery Program may be issued between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. However, because more individuals will be registered than there are immigrant visas available, a registered applicant who wishes to receive his/her immigrant visa must be prepared to act quickly after being notified, especially if he/she is assigned a favorable lottery number in the random selection process. The DOS emphasized that random selection in the lottery process does NOT guarantee that an applicant will receive a “green card.”
Education or Work Experience Required
In order to qualify for a “green card” through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, each applicant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or, within the past five years, have two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years of training. A high school education or its equivalent is defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States or successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a high school education in the United States. Evidence of educational work experience should not be submitted with the lottery entry but must be submitted to the consular official or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer at the time of the visa or adjustment of status interview. In order to determine eligibility based on work experience, definitions from the Department of Labor’s (DOL) O*Net On-Line database will be used.
DOS Does Not Charge to Enter the DV Lottery Program
The DOS indicated that there is no charge to enter the annual DV Lottery Program. The DOS emphasized that it does not employ outside consultants or private services to operate the program. It stated that a qualified entry submitted electronically directly by the applicant has an equal chance of being selected by the computer at the DOS Kentucky Consular Center as does an entry submitted electronically through a paid intermediary who completes the entry for the applicant. However, the DOS warned that if an applicant or a paid intermediary submits more than one entry per person, the person will be disqualified from the program. A special DV Lottery Case processing fee will be payable later by persons who “win” the lottery and are processed for a “green card” based upon the lottery program.
REGIONAL CLASSIFICATION OF COUNTRIES
ELIGIBLE FOR THE DV-2009 LOTTERY PROGRAM
Except as noted, the list below shows the countries qualified within each geographic region for the DV-2009 Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program.