Bloomberg Línea — The US Department of State has opened a call for applications for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program 2024, also popularly known as the ‘visa lottery’.
Each year, the US issues 55,000 visas in the interest of encouraging immigrant diversity, andBloomberg Línea summarizes the main questions for those interested in applying to participate in the lottery.
Where and when is the application period?
The application is made through the Electronic Diversity Visa Program website, where instructions are also available. The application period began on October 5, 2022 and ends on November 8 at 12 noon ET (GMT -5).
The Department of State selects applicants by computer from among qualified individuals.
“Submission of more than one entry for an individual will disqualify all entries for that individual,” warned the agency, which claims to have technological tools to detect multiple attempts.
Which countries are included in the program, and which are not?
The United States prohibits the participation of nationalities from which the immigration flow exceeded 50,000 in the last five years combined.
Eligible countries in Central America are Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Belize; and in South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
The Latin American and Caribbean countries exempt from the call are El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti and Jamaica.
Are there ways to apply if my country is not considered in the 2024 call?
There are two ways for your application to be considered in the event your country is not included: the first is if your spouse is a native of a country that is eligible. In that case, that person’s country of birth can be used, as long as you both apply, meet the requirements, and enter the United States at the same time.
The second way is that the parents of the applicant must not have been born in a country on the list of excluded countries, or must not have been legal residents of that country at the time of birth.
What are the academic requirements?
Each applicant must have completed at least secondary education or equivalent, defined as a 12-year course of education in the formal education system.
Do I have to have work experience?
The call for applications is open to persons who in the last five years have worked at least two years in an occupation that requires at least 24 months of training or experience to perform.
What form do I need to fill out to apply for the Diversity Visa?
The application is submitted exclusively online, using the electronic form DS-5501, at the Diversity Visa website: dvprogram.state.gov
The Department of State recommends using an up-to-date Internet browser to submit the application. Older applications such as Internet Explorer 8 may result in difficulties.
What information and documentation is required on the application?
Among the information that must be included in the application are passport name, gender, date of birth, city and country of birth, and the country of eligibility for the Diversity Visa program. The latter will usually be the territory where you were born.
You must also indicate the mailing address, country of current residence, a telephone number (optional), e-mail address to which you have direct access, information such as educational level and marital status.
Finally, attach photographs. If you have family you must include those of your spouse and children, although it is not necessary if some of them already reside in the United States.
What are the photo requirements?
The digital photographs must meet the same quality and composition as US visa photographs, and must not be more than six months old, in color, in focus, on a white background, showing the full face and facing the camera, in everyday clothing, except for those who profess a religion in an orthodox manner.
Accessories, eyeglasses, hats, hairstyles, and shadows that obscure the face are not acceptable, nor are digitally manipulated photographs. Neither are headphones, with the exception of normal hearing devices.
The file must be uploaded in JPEG format, with a size of 240kb or less and a dimension of 600x600 pixels.
How will I know if I have been selected?
From May 6, 2023 until September 30, 2024 , the visa website will be updated to inform applicants if they were selected. The confirmation number you obtained when completing your application form should be entered to check the status.
This confirmation number is key in the check and if lost will be unrecoverable; you will also not be able to check the selected lists at embassies or consulates.
“The Department of State will not send notification letters or notify selectees by email,” the State Department warns.
If you check on the portal that you have been successfully selected, you will receive a follow-up email communication.
What happens after I am selected?
If you have been selected, you will be redirected to a confirmation page with further instructions, including information on fees related to immigration to the United States.
To finalize the process, those chosen must become admissible to the United States by completing the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) and Alien Registration forms electronically. You will then be scheduled for an in-person interview, where you will be asked questions about immigrant admissibility, including crime and security issues.
All those selected, including family members, must receive visas by September 30, 2024.
Is there a fee?
There is no cost for the form or the mailing. The US government recommends that applicants complete the application themselves without hiring visa consultants or agents.
How can I avoid fraud in the process?
The Department of State emphasizes that after filling out the form, the applicant will receive a unique confirmation number. This code is the only way to verify whether he or she has been selected.
“Unscrupulous visa facilitators have been known to help participants with their entries, keep the printout of the confirmation page and then demand more money in exchange for the confirmation number,” the Department of State warns. It also recommended using email accounts to which the user has full access when applying, and not using those of third parties.