DV2004 Visa (Green Card) Lottery
United States Department of State -- Bureau of Consular Affairs
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE 2004 DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT VISA PROGRAM (DV-2004)
The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 to provide for a new class of immigrants known as "diversity immigrants" (DV immigrants). The Act makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
The annual DV program makes permanent residence visas available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. Applicants for Diversity Visas are chosen by a computer-generated random lottery drawing. The visas, 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 U.S. in the past five years. Within each region, no one country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.
For DV-2004, natives of the following countries1 are not eligible to apply because they sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years:
CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA,
ENTRIES FOR THE DV-2004 DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY MUST BE RECEIVED AT ONE OF THE KENTUCKY CONSULAR CENTER MAILING ADDRESSES BETWEEN NOON ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2002 AND NOON ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2002. ENTRIES RECEIVED BEFORE OR AFTER THESE DATES WILL BE DISQUALIFIED REGARDLESS OF WHEN THEY ARE POSTMARKED. ENTRIES MAILED TO ANY ADDRESS OTHER THAN THE KENTUCKY CONSULAR CENTER ADDRESSES WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ENTRY
Native of a country whose natives qualify: In most cases this means the country in which the applicant was born. However, if a person was born in a country whose natives are ineligible but his/her spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible, such person can claim the spouse’s country of birth providing both the applicant and spouse are issued visas and enter the U.S. simultaneously. If a person was born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither of his/her parents was born there or resided there at the time of the birth, such person may be able to claim nativity in one of the parents’ country of birth.
Education or Training: An applicant must have EITHER a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net OnLine database will be used to determine qualifying work experience: http://online.onetcenter.org. Applicants will also find a link to a Labor Department list of qualifying occupations at the Consular Affairs website: http://travel.state.gov
If the applicant cannot meet these requirements, he or she should NOT submit an entry to the DV program.
PROCEDURES FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY TO DV-2004
If photos do not conform to the following specifications, the entry will be disqualified:
There is no specific format for the entry. Simply use a plain sheet of paper and type or clearly print in the English (Roman) alphabet the following information. Failure to provide all of this information will disqualify the applicant’s entry.
1. FULL NAME, with the last (surname/family) name underlined
2. DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH
3. THE APPLICANT’S NATIVE COUNTRY IF DIFFERENT FROM COUNTRY OF BIRTH If the applicant is claiming nativity in a country other than his/her place of birth, this must be clearly indicated on the entry. This information must match with what is put on the upper left corner of the entry envelope. (See "MAILING THE ENTRY.") If an applicant is claiming nativity through spouse or parent, please indicate this on the entry. (See "REQUIREMENTS" section for more information on this item.)
4. NAME, DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH OF THE APPLICANT’S SPOUSE AND ALL NATURAL
CHILDREN, AS WELL AS ALL LEGALLY-ADOPTED AND STEPCHILDREN, WHO ARE UNMARRIED AND
UNDER THE AGE OF 21 YEARS, EXCEPTING THOSE CHILDREN WHO ARE ALREADY U.S.
CITIZENS OR LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS, EVEN IF YOU ARE NO LONGER LEGALLY MARRIED
TO THE CHILD’S PARENT, AND EVEN IF THE CHILD DOES NOT CURRENTLY RESIDE WITH YOU
AND/OR WILL NOT IMMIGRATE WITH YOU. Note that married children and children 21
years or older will not qualify for the Diversity Visa. Failure to list all
children will result in your disqualification for the visa.
5. FULL MAILING ADDRESS
6. PHOTOGRAPH. Attach recent photographs of the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, and all children. Print the name and date of birth of each family member on the back of each photograph. Failure to submit required photos for all family members will result in disqualification. See the information on photo requirements.
7. SIGNATURE. The applicant must personally sign the entry in his/her native alphabet, as it would appear on his or her passport or other official or contractual obligations. Failure to personally sign the entry will disqualify the application. See more information on the signature requirement.
MAILING THE ENTRY
Under the annual DV program, the world is divided into six regions, and each region has a separate address. The DV entry should be mailed to the address listed below for the applicant’s region of nativity:
Submit the entry by regular or airmail to the address matching the region of the applicant’s country of nativity. Entries sent by express or priority mail, second day airmail, fax, hand, messenger, or any means requiring special handling will not be processed.
The envelope must be between 6 and 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) long and 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 inches (9 to 11 cm) wide. Postcards or envelopes inside express or oversized mail packets are NOT acceptable. In the upper left-hand corner of the envelope the applicant must write his/her country of nativity (see instruction 3 above), followed by the applicant’s name and full return address. The applicant must provide both the country of nativity and the country of the address, even if both are the same. Failure to provide this information will disqualify the entry.
The regions are divided as follows:
Africa includes all countries on the African continent and adjacent
EXAMPLE: An applicant who was born in Australia and now lives in France may submit one entry to the appropriate address for Oceania; the envelope should look like this:
SELECTION OF APPLICANTS
Applicants will be selected at random by computer from among all qualified entries. Those selected will be notified by mail between May and July 2003 and will be provided further instructions, including information on fees connected with immigration to the U.S. Persons not selected will NOT receive any notification. U.S. embassies and consulates will not be able to provide a list of successful applicants. Spouses and unmarried children of successful applicants under age 21 may also apply for visas to accompany or follow to join the principal applicant. DV-2004 visas will be issued between October 1, 2003 and September 30, 2004.
In order to actually receive a visa, applicants selected in the random drawing must meet ALL eligibility requirements under U.S. law, including any applicable special processing requirements established in response to the events of September 11, 2001. These requirements may significantly increase the level of scrutiny required and time necessary for processing of applications for natives of some countries listed in this notice, including, but not limited to, countries identified as state sponsors of terrorism.
Processing of entries and issuance of diversity visas to successful applicants and their eligible family members MUST occur by midnight on September 30, 2004. Under no circumstances can diversity visas be issued or adjustments approved after this date, nor can family members obtain diversity visas to follow to join the applicant in the U.S. after this date.
NO fee is charged to enter the annual DV program. The U.S. Government employs no outside consultants or private mail services to operate the DV program. Any intermediaries or others who offer assistance to prepare DV casework for applicants do so without the authority or consent of the U.S. Government. Use of any outside intermediary or assistance to prepare a DV entry is entirely at the applicant's discretion.
A qualified entry received directly from an applicant
has an equal chance of being selected by the computer at the Kentucky Consular
Center as does an entry received through a paid intermediary who completes the
entry for the applicant. There is no advantage to mailing early, or mailing from
any particular place. Every entry received during the mail-in period will have
an equal random chance of being selected within its region. However, receipt of
more than one entry per person will disqualify the person from registration,
regardless of the source of that entry.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DV REGISTRATION
1. WHAT DOES THE TERM "NATIVE" MEAN? ARE THERE ANY SITUATIONS IN WHICH PERSONS WHO WERE NOT BORN IN A QUALIFYING COUNTRY MAY APPLY?
"Native" ordinarily means someone born in a particular country, regardless of the individual's current country of residence or nationality. But "native" can also mean someone who is entitled to be "charged" to a country other than the one in which he/she was born under the provisions of Section 202(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
For example, if a principal applicant was born in a country that is not eligible for this year’s DV program, he/she may claim "chargeability" to the country where his/her derivative spouse was born, but he/she will not be issued a DV-1 unless the spouse is also eligible for and issued a DV-2, and both must enter the U.S. together on the DVs. In a similar manner, a minor dependent child can be "charged" to a parent’s country of birth.
Finally, any applicant born in a country ineligible for this year’s DV program can be "charged" to the country of birth of either parent as long as neither parent was a resident of the ineligible country at the time of the applicant’s birth. In general, people are not considered residents of a country in which they were not born or legally naturalized if they are only visiting the country temporarily or stationed in the country for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government.
An applicant who claims alternate chargeability must include information to that effect on the application for registration (See number 3 of the application information items in this Visa Bulletin.), and must show the native country claimed on the upper left hand corner of the envelope in which the registration request is mailed, or the entry will be disqualified.
2. ARE THERE ANY CHANGES OR NEW REQUIREMENTS IN THE APPLICATION PROCEDURES FOR THIS DIVERSITY VISA REGISTRATION?
3. ARE SIGNATURES AND PHOTOGRAPHS REQUIRED FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER, OR ONLY FOR THE PRINCIPAL APPLICANT?
Only the principal applicant is required to personally sign the entry. Recent and individual photos of the applicant, his/her spouse and all children are required. Family or group photos are not accepted. Check the information on the signature and photo requirements in this bulletin.
4. WHY DO NATIVES OF CERTAIN COUNTRIES NOT QUALIFY FOR THE DIVERSITY PROGRAM?
Diversity visas are intended to provide an immigration opportunity for persons from countries other than the countries which send large numbers of immigrants to the U.S. The law states that no diversity visas shall be provided for natives of "high admission" countries. These countries are those from which a total of 50,000 persons in the Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based visa categories immigrated to the United States during the previous five years. Each year, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) adds the family and employment immigrant admission figures for the previous five years in order to identify the countries whose natives must be excluded from the annual diversity lottery. Because there is a separate determination made before each annual DV entry period, the list of countries whose natives do not qualify may change from one year to the next.
5. WHAT IS THE NUMERICAL LIMIT FOR DV-2004?
By law, the U.S. diversity immigration program makes available a maximum of 55,000 permanent residence visas each year to eligible persons. However, the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NCARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulates that beginning as early as DV-99, and for as long as necessary, 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NCARA program. The actual reduction of the limit to 50,000 began with DV-2000 and remains in effect for the DV-2004 program.
6. WHAT ARE THE REGIONAL DIVERSITY VISA (DV) LIMITS FOR DV-2004?
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) determines the DV regional limits for each year according to a formula specified in Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Once the INS has completed the calculations, the regional visa limits will be announced.
7. WHEN WILL ENTRIES FOR THE DV-2004 PROGRAM BE ACCEPTED?
The month-long DV entry period begins each fall at noon on the first Monday in October and lasts for 30 days. Each year millions apply for the program during the mail-in registration period. The massive volume of entries creates an enormous amount of work in selecting and processing successful applicants. Holding the entry period in the fall will ensure successful applicants are notified in a timely manner, and gives both them and our embassies and consulates more time to prepare and complete entries for visa issuance.
8. MAY PERSONS WHO ARE IN THE U.S. APPLY FOR THE PROGRAM?
Yes, an applicant may be in the U.S. or in another country, and the entry may be mailed from the U.S. or from abroad.
9. IS EACH APPLICANT LIMITED TO ONLY ONE ENTRY DURING THE ANNUAL DV REGISTRATION PERIOD?
Yes, the law allows only one entry by or for each person during each registration period; applicants for whom more than one entry is submitted will be disqualified. Applicants may be disqualified at time of selection as a successful entrant, or at the time of the visa interview or at any time during the process if more than one entry is detected. However, applicants may apply for the program each year during the regular one-month registration period.
10. MAY A HUSBAND AND A WIFE EACH SUBMIT A SEPARATE ENTRY?
Yes, a husband and a wife may each submit one entry. If either were selected, the other would be entitled to derivative status. Note: Husbands and wives may not sign for each other. Each applicant must sign his or her own entry.
11. WHAT FAMILY MEMBERS MUST I INCLUDE ON MY DV ENTRY?
On your entry you must list your spouse, that is husband or wife, and all unmarried children under 21 years of age, with the exception of a child who is already a U.S. citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident. You must list your spouse even if you are currently separated from him/her. However, if you are legally divorced, you do not need to list your former spouse. For customary marriages, the important date is the date of the original marriage ceremony, not the date on which the marriage is registered. You must list ALL your children who are unmarried and under the age of 21 years, whether they are your natural children, your spouse’s children by a previous marriage, or children you have formally adopted in accordance with the laws of your country, unless a child is already a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident. List all children even if they no longer reside with you.
The fact that you have listed family members on your entry does not mean that they later must travel with you. They may choose to remain behind. However, if you include an eligible dependent on your visa application forms that you failed to include on your original entry, your case will be disqualified. (This only applies to persons who were dependents at the time the original application was submitted, not those acquired at a later date.) Your spouse may still submit a separate entry, even though he or she is listed on your entry, as long as both entries include details on all dependents in your family. See question 10 above.
12. MUST EACH APPLICANT SUBMIT HIS/HER OWN ENTRY, OR MAY SOMEONE ACT ON BEHALF OF AN APPLICANT?
Applicants may prepare and submit their own entries, or have someone submit the entry for them. Regardless of whether an entry is submitted by the applicant directly, or assistance is provided by an attorney, friend, relative, etc., only one entry may be submitted in the name of each person. The applicant's original signature is required on the entry, regardless whether it is prepared and submitted by the applicant or by someone else. If the applicant does not personally sign the entry in his/her native alphabet, the entry will be disqualified. If the entry is selected, the notification letter will be sent only to the mailing address provided on the entry.
13. WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR EDUCATION OR WORK EXPERIENCE?
The law and regulations require that every 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 training or experience. A "high school education or equivalent" is defined as successful completion of a twelve-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. Documentary proof of education or work experience should not be submitted with the lottery entry, but must be presented to the consular officer at the time of the visa interview. To determine eligibility based on work experience, definitions from the Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine database will be used: http://online.onetcenter.org.
14. HOW WILL SUCCESSFUL ENTRANTS BE SELECTED?
At the Kentucky Consular Center, all mail received at each of the six geographic regional addresses will be individually numbered. After the end of the application period, a computer will randomly select entries from among all the mail received for each geographic region. Within each region, the first letter randomly selected will be the first case registered, the second letter selected the second registration, etc. All entries received during the mail-in period will have an equal chance of being selected within each region. When an entry has been selected, the applicant will be sent a notification letter by the Kentucky Consular Center, which will provide visa application instructions. The Kentucky Consular Center will continue to process the case until those who are selected are instructed to appear for visa interviews at a U.S. consular office, or until those able to do so apply at an INS office in the United States for change of status.
15. MAY WINNING APPLICANTS ADJUST THEIR STATUS WITH THE INS?
Yes, provided they are otherwise eligible to adjust status under the terms of Section 245 of the INA, selected applicants who are physically present in the United States may apply to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for adjustment of status to permanent resident. Applicants must ensure that INS can COMPLETE ACTION on their cases, including processing of any overseas derivatives, before September 30, 2004, since on that date registrations for the DV-2004 program expire. No visa numbers for the DV-2004 program will be available after midnight on September 30, 2004 under any circumstances.
16. WILL APPLICANTS WHO ARE NOT ELECTED BE INFORMED?
No, applicants who are not selected will receive no response to their entry. Only those who are selected will be informed. All notification letters are sent within about nine months of the end of the application period to the address indicated on the entry. Anyone who does NOT receive a letter will know that his/her application has not been selected.
17. HOW MANY APPLICANTS WILL BE SELECTED?
There are 50,000 DV visas available for DV-2004, but more than that number of individuals will be selected. Because it is likely that some of the first 50,000 persons who are selected will not pursue their cases to visa issuance, more than 50,000 entries will be selected by the Kentucky Consular Center to ensure that all of the available DV visas are issued. However, this also means that there will not be a sufficient number of visas for all those who are initially selected. All applicants who are selected will be informed promptly of their place on the list. Interviews with those selected will begin in early October 2003. The Kentucky Consular Center will send appointment letters to selected applicants four to six weeks before the scheduled interviews with U.S. consular officers at overseas posts. Each month visas will be issued, visa number availability permitting, to those applicants who are ready for issuance during that month. Once all of the 50,000 DV visas have been issued, the program for the year will end. In principle, visa numbers could be finished before September 2004. Selected applicants who wish to receive visas must be prepared to act promptly on their cases. Random selection by the Kentucky Consular Center computer does not automatically guarantee that you will receive a visa.
18. IS THERE A MINIMUM AGE FOR APPLICANTS TO APPLY FOR THE DV PROGRAM?
There is no minimum age to apply for the program, but the requirement of a high school education or work experience for each principal applicant at the time of application will effectively disqualify most persons who are under age 18.
19. ARE THERE ANY FEES FOR THE DV PROGRAM?
There is no fee for submitting an entry, and no fee should be included with the entry sent to the mailing addresses indicated above. A special DV case processing fee will be payable later by persons whose entries are actually selected and processed at an U.S. consular section for this year’s program. DV applicants, like other immigrant visa applicants, must also pay the regular visa fees at the time of visa issuance. Details of required fees will be included with the instructions sent by the Kentucky Consular Center to applicants who are selected.
20. ARE DV APPLICANTS SPECIALLY ENTITLED TO APPLY FOR A WAIVER OF ANY OF THE GROUNDS OF VISA INELIGIBILITY?
No. Applicants are subject to all grounds of ineligibility for immigrant visas specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act. There are no special provisions for the waiver of any ground of visa ineligibility other than those ordinarily provided in the Act.
21. MAY PERSONS WHO ARE ALREADY REGISTERED FOR AN IMMIGRANT VISA IN ANOTHER CATEGORY APPLY FOR THE DV PROGRAM?
Yes, such persons may apply for the DV program.
22. HOW LONG DO APPLICANTS WHO ARE SELECTED REMAIN ENTITLED TO APPLY FOR VISAS IN THE DV CATEGORY?
Persons selected in the DV-2004 lottery are entitled to apply for visa issuance only during fiscal year 2004, i.e., from October 2003 through September 2004. Applicants must obtain the DV visa or adjust status by the end of the Fiscal Year (September 30, 2004). There is no carry-over of DV benefits into the next year for persons who are selected but who do not obtain visas during FY-2004. Also, spouses and children who derive status from a DV-2004 registration can only obtain visas in the DV category between October 2003 and September 2004. Applicants who apply overseas will receive an appointment letter from the Kentucky Consular Center four to six weeks before the scheduled appointment.
LIST OF COUNTRIES BY REGION WHOSE NATIVES QUALIFY
The lists below show the countries whose natives are QUALIFIED within each geographic region for this diversity program. The determination of countries within each region is based on information provided by the Geographer of the Department of State. The countries whose natives do not qualify for the DV-2004 program were identified by the Immigration and Naturalization Service according to the formula in Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Dependent areas overseas are included within the region of the governing country. The countries whose natives do NOT qualify for this diversity program (because they are the principal source countries of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration, or "high admission" countries) are noted in parentheses after the respective regional lists.
(Natives of the following Asian countries do not qualify for this
year's diversity program:
(Natives of the following European countries do not qualify for this year's diversity program: GREAT BRITAIN. GREAT BRITAIN (UNITED KINGDOM) includes the following dependent areas: ANGUILLA, BERMUDA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, CAYMAN ISLANDS, FALKLAND ISLANDS, GIBRALTAR, MONTSERRAT, PITCAIRN, ST. HELENA, TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS. Note that for purposes of the diversity program only, Northern Ireland is treated separately; Northern Ireland does qualify and is listed among the qualifying areas.
(In North America, natives of CANADA do not qualify for this year's diversity program.)
(Countries in this region whose natives do not qualify for this year's
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