The registration period for the Diversity Visa (DV) Program, also known as the "Green Card Lottery," officially opened yesterday. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services David Donahue and other officials from the Bureau of Consular Affairs gathered in a State Department conference room just after noon to witness the entry of the first official applicant for this year's program, which now includes the countries of Poland and South Sudan. The group cheered the arrival of application after application as they tracked tallies from each country.
Every year, the Congressionally mandated DV Program makes 50,000 permanent resident visas available to citizens of countries that have historically low rates of immigration to the United States. From year to year, certain nationalities do or do not qualify for the program due to recent rates of immigration for their home countries. In this latest program, citizens of Bangladesh do not qualify, while citizens of Poland do qualify after being out of the program in recent years. The newly independent country of South Sudan has also been added to the list of qualifying countries.
This year just over 3,800 applications arrived within the registration's first 30 minutes. Last year's registration period ended with over 19 million applications. The registration period this year will run 32 days.
The entire Diversity Visa process, from registration to interview scheduling, is electronic. Electronic registration became the standard process several years ago in an effort to combat fraud. The online process places control of information flow in the hands of legitimate customers only.
This year as in years past, scammers and swindlers are already looking to defraud innocent persons around the world. The Department has already seen messages going out telling the recipients that they have been selected in the program and asking them to pay in advance certain registration or processing fees.
There are a few key points that make such scams easy to detect:
- The Department of State does not inform applicants of their status by email. Instead, at a time to be announced in 2012, applicants can log-on and see for themselves if they have been selected.
- Selected applicants must then attend an interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. No fees are paid in advance of that interview.
- Fees are paid directly at the Embassy. The Department does not collect fees by wire transfer or money transfer agencies.
Entries must be submitted electronically through the DV Program website, www.dvlottery.state.gov. Entrants must save their confirmation number after registering because they will only be able to check their entry status through the DV Program website. Selected entrants, who are drawn randomly, will also visit the website to find information on the date, location, and time of their visa interview.
Entries for the lottery may be submitted electronically through 12:00 p.m. EDT Saturday, November 5, 2011.
A special briefing about the DV program at the Foreign Press Center can be viewed here.
For more information about the DV program, please click here.
For DV program instructions, please click here.
To submit an entry form, go to: www.dvlottery.state.gov.