It’s that time of year again. The Department of State is accepting applications for its annual visa lottery.
The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery 2009 application and instructions are available on the DOS website. Applications will be accepted through noon (12 p.m.), Eastern Standard Time, Sunday, Dec. 2007.
The DV Lottery is the annual program that provides a maximum of up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to randomly selected eligible persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
The eligibility requirements to enter the lottery are simple. The 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. Whether an occupation requires the two years or more of training is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor via the O*Net OnLine database.
Applicants must strictly follow the application process, including photo requirements, or the entry will be rejected. In addition, only one entry per applicant may be filed. If an applicant files more than one entry, the applicant will be disqualified.
Applications may be filed only online. Paper submissions are not accepted.
Individuals born in the following countries are NOT eligible to apply because they have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the period of the previous five years:
Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. However, persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.
Please note that if you were born in one of the above ineligible countries, you may still be eligible based on your spouse’s or a parent’s country of birth. The DV Lottery instructions contain more information about the requirements for eligibility in this situation and should be read carefully.
Winners will be notified by mail between May and July 2008 and will be provided further instructions at that point. Those selected in the random drawing are NOT notified by email. Every year, spam emails circulate the world claiming the recipient to be a DV Lottery winner. These emails are fraudulent and should be reported to the U.S. government.
There is NO fee for entering the DV Lottery. Lottery winners, though, will have to pay the visa fee applicable to their country if they are approved.
Applicants should be skeptical of any unsolicited offers to apply on their behalf or making guarantees of winning. While there are legitimate companies that offer useful information about the DV Lottery and assistance with the technical requirements, some are scams preying on the hopeful. Accordingly, the U.S. government has issued this warning in its instructions:
Some websites may try to mislead customers and members of the public into thinking they are official websites and may contact you by email to lure you to their offers. These websites may attempt to require you to pay for services such as forms and information about immigration procedures, which are otherwise free on the Department of State Visa Services website, or overseas through the Embassy Consular Section websites. Additionally, these other websites may require you to pay for services you will not receive, often including diversity immigration application and visa fees in an effort to outright steal your money. Once you send money in one of these scams, you will never see it again. Also, you should be wary of sending any personal information that might be used for identity fraud/theft to these websites.
If you receive an email solicitation by someone claiming to be the U.S. government, in particular, first look at the email or any referenced website address. The only official government internet sites on the DV Lottery are those with the “.gov” indicator. All others are fraudulent and should be reported to any one of these sites: econsumer.gov, a joint effort of consumer protection agences from 17 countries, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3. Any other internet fraud related to the DV Lottery should also be reported to those sites. To file a complaint about unsolicited email in particular, go to the Department of Justice anti-spam site.
Furthermore, regardless of any claims made by one of these services, whether you pay someone to fill out and submit the application for you, or you do it yourself, your chance at winning is the same, provided you have completed the application properly.
For more information about the DV Lottery 2009 program, the State Department has posted detailed instructions on its website. Read them carefully, follow them precisely and …