Guide to Country Specific Documents Reciprocity for Immigration Applications

Birth, marriage, divorce, death and adoption certificates vary by country. Often times, your home country’s documents are issued or stored in a completely different manner than that of the US style. The civil authority that regulates recording of birth, marriages, death sometimes conducts its business in a completely different manner than the US style. Some countries did not even use birth certificates until the late 1980s. Sometimes, if the country went through a period of civil unrest such as a civil war or genocide, all birth records and marriage records were lost. If you are applying for a US immigration visa and are lost on how you can provide a valid Birth, marriage, divorce, death or adoption certificates, you need to check out the Country Reciprocity Schedule on the Department of State’s website.

As you may know, the US Department of State operates the foreign embassies and consulates around the world. The Dept of State personnel studies and attempts to understand the various cultural differences in how the civil records are established and kept in foreign countries. Through their findings, they document exactly what would be the equivalent certificate that can be used to satisfy the documentation requirement on your immigration visas. DO NOT try to fool the National Visa Center (NVC) or the Dept of State; they know exactly what kind of documents you should be able to produce for your immigration application if your country uses a different civil record keeping system. Also, they are aware of a country or region’s history to understand that sometimes all records are lost and will provide a way for you to still get some kind of documentation to be submitted with your immigration application. They will provide the name of the civil authority necessary to obtain your documents, so you don’t really have a way of saying “I simply don’t have it”. For example, if you search for China, you can see immediately that the Dept of State asks you to contact the Gong Zheng Chu notary office to get official birth or adaption certificates. For marriage certificates, you would go to Jie Hun Gong Zheng.

The schedule is very detailed and you can simply search by your home country at the top of the page to see what documents can suffice for your particular country. When you search for a country, you are first prompted with a huge list of visas that are available for your country and the validity period for your country. Keep scrolling down and you will see a section of civil documents that are commonly used in your home country and that you can use those to substitute what is needed on the immigration visa application should you not have the exact style of certificates.

Take an example, if you search for Taiwan, you will see that in Taiwan, birth certificates are not actually commonly used in the past. Due to the Japanese occupation and their implementation of the koseki system, the household register is actually used to keep track of population and families. And so the website shows that you can use the household registration records as a form of birth certificate, especially for older people who were born around the time of WWII.

Sometimes, the problem with your document is that the way the name is spelled in English is different from the passport and the civil document. Take Taiwan for example again, the Dept of State researched and found that “Taiwan does not use a standard system for romanizing names, resulting in a wide range of name spellings.” The Dept of State knows that it is common that the same person’s name is spelled differently in English from one document to another. Therefore, instead of relying on the name, the Dept of State asks to use the National Identification Number which is unique to every Taiwanese citizen to be included in the documents so that it can be known that although the name is spelled differently, the documents are actually for the same person. Again, the Dept of State knows exactly how different countries have different issues with civil documents and therefore implements a solution to avoid issues.

Basically, do not worry if you don’t have the US style civil documents for your immigration visa applications. The Dept of State has thoroughly researched how your home country keeps their civil records and gives you every possible method for you to obtain similar or substitute documents. The Dept of State will inform the NVC how to accept different documents for the same person due to the different styles of civil recording keeping in each country. When in doubt, just go to the Country Reciprocity Schedule.

 

Immigration to America is getting harder and harder – Don’t wait, Start today!

old immigrants

old immigrants

It used to be that as long as you have the money for a journey into the North American continent, you can land and settle in America by simply declaring your intentions on becoming a US Citizen. Of course this was limited to white men as well because the world was not equal then. With the society becoming more equal and globalized, immigration to America is still possible and there are several ways for someone to become a US permanent resident and eventually a US Citizen. However, don’t delay because as the country gets more and more people, immigration laws will just become tougher and tougher.

If you have little or no money

The best way for you to immigrate is through the diversity visa lottery program, held every year to award the lucky 50,000 individuals a green card simply for filing out a 5 minute application. This is easy to enter but hard to win. Of course, if you are a citizen of a country that has already sent more than 50,000 immigrants to America that year, you also cannot enter the lottery. Check out my guide on the diversity visa lottery program on how to enter and pray!The only other way is through your living relatives in America who are US Citizens to sponsor you to come to the United States. I assume if you have relatives in the US, you already know about this and have contacted them.

If you have some money

The surest but also the longest way for you to become a US immigrant is first to America to study as a F-1 student. This requires you to pay for your college or graduate tuition which in the US is an exorbitant amount. However, by doing well in school and then graduating in a field that is easy to find jobs, you can then work in America and eventually get sponsored for a green card through your employer. Check out my comprehensive guide on F-1 visa student immigration.

If you have a lot of money

If you are doing very well in your home country, chances are you probably don’t want to immigrate to America since you will be taxed on your earnings in your home country which has nothing to do with your US immigration status. But if you want to flee your home country due to persecution, limited freedom, crime, corruption, etc, then all you have to do is spend $500,000 on a EB-5 investor visa. Generally you would invest into a USCIS approved regional center which will take that money and give you and your family a green card. You probably would also pick regional centers that are in target rural areas so that you only have to spend $500k (if you pick regional centers in highly populated low unemployment areas, it will cost you $1 million). Remember that investment is not guaranteed and not returned to you. Think of it as “buying” a green card.

Immigration laws may seem tough and stringent now, but I assure you that it will only get tougher and more restricted. Therefore, if you are looking to immigrate to America, don’t hesitate, start your journey today. If you are like most people, you should be looking for the path of the student immigrant by first coming to America as an F-1 student. This is the surest way to immigrate to America but at the same time arduous and costs you and your family years of tuition. However this is the way that you don’t depend on luck to immigrate, you do it on your own, the American way.

 

Does entering the Diversity Lottery hurt your chances of getting a visa?

non-immigrant-visa

Often times, when applying for non-immigrant visas such as the F-1, J-1, B1/B2 tourist visa, the visa officer needs to believe that you intend on returning to your home country when you finish with your studies or program or your tour. One of the question they may as you is, “Have you entered the recent Diversity Visa Lottery program”. If you did, you must answer truthfully because they can find out if you lied. However, this does not mean that you should not enter the Diversity Visa lottery every year to possibly win a green card. Here is why.

Remember America is a democratic and liberal country. People have the complete right to make and change their decisions. Therefore, just because you did apply to enter the green card lottery on October 10th, does not mean you “changed your mind” and now just want to come to study in America and go home after you graduate on October 11th. Do you get what I mean? It is OK to change your mind! This is the beauty of America!


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While applying for a non-immigrant visa means you need to demonstrate that you have strong ties to your home country and you intend on going back, and it may seem logical that a person who applied to enter the green card lottery does NOT want to go back to his home country, it is all about your current intention right now. The visa officer can only officially take into consideration your current intention when applying for a non-immigrant visa, not your intention when you applied to enter the green card lottery a month ago.

So, when asked if you entered the recent DV program, you must answer truthfully. If yes, the visa officer may ask why, in which you can simply respond that at the time, you thought it would be a fun thing to do since the chances are so low but now you changed your mind and have decided to come to America to study/visit and this is your true intention and the reason why you are applying for the non-immigrant visa.

Good Luck!

Guide to the Diversity Visa Program – After getting selected

If you looking for information here, first let me congratulate you! Out of millions of submissions, your entry was selected for further processing. You have to realize this is special and very very lucky. There are alot of people who have been trying for years and have not been able to be selected. You are moving one step closer to immigrating to America!

I assume that you have come here because you have personally checked your entry on https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ with your confirmation number from when you applied, and you can see that you have been selected for further processing. Remember, there are NO emails, NO letters and NO notifications from the Department of State if you are selected, you HAVE to check it manually on https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ to know if you are selected. ANY EMAILS, LETTERS OR PHONE CALLS CLAIMING YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED ARE FAKE.

Now that you are excited, I also must warn you the process is long, and you are not guaranteed a Diversity Visa and a green card. You are one of the 125,000 lottery winners selected however only 50,000 visas will be given. If your application is still in progress but 50,000 visas have already been given, your application will be terminated immediately and the program for that year is over. You will have to apply again like the rest of the other people and start all over again. It is still too early to be sure you will be immigrating to America, therefore DO NOT do anything to prepare a move yet. There were stories of people who quit their jobs, sell off their personal items and sell their houses when they found out they were selected as one of the 125,000 winners, and then later realize they were not able to get the Diversity Visa to come to America. They disrupted their entire way of life too early and nobody will help them to readjust, especially not the American government or Department of State.

I also assume that you read the requirements of the Diversity Visa and that you do have at least a high school education or a 2 year work experience within the last 5 years that typically requires college or graduate education.  The link to validate your job is at http://online.onetcenter.org/. Visit that site and check your occupation. Start searching from the section highlighted there.

 

search for specialized zone 4 or 5 qualifying work experience

search for specialized zone 4 or 5 qualifying work experience

Make sure your job is Zone 4 or 5, which usually are jobs that require significant education. I am not going to go into details with this since I think if you can find my website and read all this information you have at least graduated high school.

There are 2 different paths for people to get the Diversity Visa. The first path is for overseas people who are not in America. I will go through this only. The second path is for people who are ALREADY in America, on a visa, and will simply do an Adjustment of Status. Adjustment of Status based on Diversity Visa is easier than applying from another country. For the people who are already in America, you only need to contact your local USCIS office for further instructions and directions.

Instructions for people who are not in America

You have two forms to fill out. The first form is DSP-122. The version I have linked on my site is from 2013. Always check the Department of State’s website for the latest version. This form only needs to be filled out by the person who has been selected as the winner. So for example if you applied using your spouse’s citizenship and you won, only you need to fill out DSP-122. Your spouse and children will be filling out a different form.

The DSP-122 form asks very basic and straightforward information.

  1. Name – use the name that is on your passport

  2. Rank Order Number – you can get this number when you log into the Entrant Status Check website and that you are selected as a winner

  3. Current Mailing address – make sure you write it clearly and make sure it is a good English translation of your address so that your own country’s postal service will not have problems. This is important because they will send information and the interview appointment letter to this address.

  4. Name of United State Consular Office to process your application – use an embassy or consulate that processes visas and is easy for you to travel to.

  5. Country – although the instruction says Native Country, you really should put down the country you used to qualify for the Diversity Visa.

  6. Education – check the box for your level, and then write each school that you went to. Be truthful

  7. Work Experience – if you are qualified via education, and you don’t have any work experience, that is OK to leave it as No. However, it wouldn’t harm your application if you do have some work experience that requires special skills or training. If your work experience is very simple and does not require education or training, you need to check No.

  8. Sign the document

After DSP-122, you should then proceed to fill out DS-230. In addition to yourself, the DS-230 is for everyone who intends on immigrating to America with you. If you used your spouse’s citizenship to qualify, you MUST immigrate with him/her, otherwise your application will be denied. Each person coming to America will need to fill out a form DS-230.

The questions are also pretty straight forward and remember you must be completely honest otherwise you risk the denial of your application.

  1. Name – as it is on the passport

  2. other names used – previous last name if married, any aliases

  3. Full Name in native language – if your language does not use alphabets, you must write the actual way of your written name in your native language. However if your native language is already using alphabets, then this can be blank

  4. Date of birth

  5. Age in years

  6. Place of birth

  7. Nationality – put the country of your passport, you should also write your spouse’s nationality if different and using their citizenship to immigrate

  8. Gender

  9. Marriage status

  10. Address where you will reside in USA – this may be difficult if you have absolutely no family or relatives in America. However, if that is the case, you should put unknown

  11. Address to mail the Green Card – this is where a friend’s address may be useful. If you absolutely have nobody to rely on, you can put the hotel where you will be staying at first.

  12. Present occupation – your current job

  13. Present address – your current address in your country

  14. Spouse’s maiden name, first name

  15. Date and place of birth of spouse

  16. Address of spouse

  17. Spouse’s occupation

  18. Date of marriage

  19. Father’s name

  20. Father’s date of birth

  21. Father’s place of birth

  22. Father’s address

  23. If your father is deceased, put the year of death

  24. Mother’s name

  25. Mother’s date of birth

  26. Mother’s place of birth

  27. Mother’s address

  28. If your mother is deceased, put the year of death

  29. List the information of all your children, regardless if they are immigrating with you or not

  30. List all places you have lived since 16 years old

  31. a) List the people who will be immigrating with you, your wife and children. Remember if you used your spouse’s citizenship, they have to immigrate with you.

              b) List of people who may immigrate later after you have settled in America, your wife or children

  1. Employment history for the last 10 years and what you intend on doing in America

  2. Educational history, languages spoken and professional association memberships

  3. Previous military service

  4. List all past trips to America, and where you stayed during those trips

Sign the application at this page. This is the end of Part 1. Repeat the process for everyone who is immigrating with you.

Part 2:

  1. Name as it appears on the passport

  2. other names used – previous last name if married, any aliases

  3. Full Name in native language – if your language does not use alphabets, you must write the actual way of your written name in your native language. However if your native language is already using alphabets, then this can be blank

  4. Name and address of petitioner – put your own name and address down if this is your own DS-230. For your spouse and children, you will also put your own name and address.

  5. Answer the questions listed and check Yes or No. Be truthful. If you have a Yes in one of the questions, you may be denied in your application at the interview, if you are not able to explain it.

  6. Ever been arrested, charged or convicted for any crimes. Check Yes or No, if Yes you must explain

  7. Ever been refused admission to America. Check Yes or No, if Yes you must explain

  8. Have you ever applied for a Social Security Number. Question 43 B is your agreement for Social Security Administration to forward your Social Security Number to USCIS.

  9. If you asked someone else to fill out this application for you, such as a lawyer, then you must put their information down.

STOP. This is the end of Part 2. Do not fill out the rest. The rest of the document is for you to fill out at the interview under the direction of the immigration officer. This document will be there at your interview even though you are sending it to America right now. The Kentucky Diversity Lottery center will send these forms to your local American embassy or consulate.

Now, you will need 2 passport style photos per each person that is immigrating, including yourself. Check out my guide on taking passport photos at home and save some money.

Gather all your materials. Check to make sure you have:

  • Completed and signed DSP-122

  • Completed (part 1 only) DS-230 (one for everyone person who is immigrating to America)

  • 2 passport photos per person

  • Barcode sheet from the notification letter from your online status check. If you absolutely cannot find it, then at least include the winning notification letter that has your case number.

Send all materials to the following location:

U.S. Department of State

Kentucky Consular Center

3505 North Highway 25W

Williamsburg, KY 40769

U.S.A.

Now you have to wait. You can check the status of your application from the Visa Bulletin on the Department of State website.

First check the Visa Bulletin to see if your Diversity Visa Rank Order Number has been announced. To do this, go to http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/ and select the Visa Bulletin link at the left.

Department of State visa bulletin for the latest Visa processing priorities

Department of State visa bulletin for the latest Visa processing priorities

Click on the Bulletin for the current month. Scroll down to the section for DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY. You should see a chart like this:

example chart showing current Diversity Visa ranking numbers that are being processed

example chart showing current Diversity Visa ranking numbers that are being processed

Look for your region, remember it is about the country of where you used to qualify for the Diversity Visa. The number next to it, that is the current highest Rank Order Number that can get a Diversity Visa. If your Rank Order Number is above the number in the chart, your application will not be processed yet and you won’t get an interview.

While you may have alot of time or your application may never get processed if your number is really high since 50,000 visas may have been awarded, nevertheless you could try to prepare the necessary documents that you need to present at the visa interview at your local embassy or consulate. All documents must be original. All documents must be accompanied with translation if the documents are not already in English.


List of Documents that will be needed at the interview

  • Required DV Qualifying Education or Work Experience

    • Documents that show proof of your education (you have completed above high school equivalent education)

    • Or Work experience in the last 5 years that qualify

  • Birth Certificate

    • The certificate must contain the:

      • Person’s date of birth;

      • Person’s place of birth;

      • Names of both parents; and,

      • Annotation by the appropriate authority indicating that it is an extract from the official records.

    • If not available, please obtain a certified statement from the appropriate government authority stating the reason the applicant’s birth record is not available. With the certified statement the applicant must submit secondary evidence. For example:

      • A baptismal certificate that contains the date and place of birth, as well as both parents’ names (providing the baptism took place shortly after birth).

      • An adoption decree for an adopted child.

      • Note: An affidavit must be executed before an official authorized to take oaths or affirmations. An affidavit from a close relative, preferably the applicant’s mother, stating the date and place of birth, both parents names, and the mother’s maiden name.

  • Court and Prison Records – for any arrests, convictions, and charges

  • Deportation Documentation – Applicants who have previously been deported or removed at government expense from the United States must obtain Form I-212, Permission to Reapply after Deportation, from the U.S. Citizenship or Immigration Services or from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and follow the instructions included on that form.

  • Marriage Certificate – Married applicants must obtain an original marriage certificate, or a certified copy, bearing the appropriate seal or stamp of the issuing authority. Submit this to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your interview.

  • Marriage Termination Documentation – Applicants who have been previously married must obtain evidence of the termination of EACH prior marriage. Evidence submitted to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate must be in the form of original documents issued by a competent authority, or certified copies bearing the appropriate seal or stamp of the issuing authority, such as: Final divorce decree, Death certificate, Annulment papers

  • Military Records – Persons who have served in the military forces of any country must obtain a copy of their military record. Submit documentation to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your interview.

  • Police Records – Each applicant aged 16 years or older must submit police certificates to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your interview.The applicant must submit police certificates that meet the following guidelines. The police certificate must:

    • Cover the entire period of the applicant’s residence in that area.

    • Be issued by the appropriate police authority.

    • Include all arrests, the reason for the arrest(s), and the disposition of each case of which there is a record.

  • Custody Documentation – For adopted children


After you have been contacted for an interview

After all of your forms have been received and approved by the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), based on visa availability, you may receive an interview appointment letter indicating the date, time, and location of your visa interview. You will need to be present at the interview, as well as your spouse and children (as applicable) who are applying for a diversity immigrant visa.

You will need a medical exam prior to the interview and the results have to be provided to the interview officer. There are specific physicians that you MUST go to for the exam, you cannot go to any physician that you want, they must be authorized by the Department of State. Check this website for accurate instructions and list of physicians that are authorized.

You should prepare thoroughly and carefully for your interview. Failure to be fully prepared for your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can result in delay or denial of the visa. It is important that you follow any additional instructions provided by the Embassy or Consulate on the Interview Preparation – Embassy Guidelines webpage.

At your interview you must bring the following;

  • Selectee notification letter which you received from online status check.

  • Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the U.S. for you and each family member applying for a visa.

  • Original documents or certified copies of all applicable civil documents listed in the Step 3 instructions.

    • Original Document Requirements or certified copies, translated to English

  • Fee

    • Currently is $330 per person

    • Check this page for updated fee amount.

After the Interview

If you pass the interview, CONGRATULATIONS. You are now on your way to live in America permanently. When You Have Your Diversity Immigrant Visa, if you are issued a diversity immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the immigrant visa and a sealed packet containing the documents which you provided. It is important that you DO NOT OPEN the sealed packet. Only the U.S. immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. You are required to enter the United States before the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.

You must also go home and pay a USCIS fee online. The steps to pay the USCIS fee is here. Currently the fee is $165. If you don’t pay this fee, USCIS will not issue you the green card upon arrival until you have paid it.

Contact

If during the process you have any questions or concerns, you can try to contact the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) for information and answers. As a winner of the lottery, with a case number, generally they will be able to help you with any questions. The KCC telephone number is 606-526-7500 (7:30am until 4:00pm EST), or send an E-mail inquiry to KCCDV@state.gov


Guide to The Diversity Visa Program – The Green Card Lottery

Introduction

entering the green card lottery to immigrate to america

entering the green card lottery to immigrate to america

One of the easiest and fastest way but also the most difficult way to immigrate to America is to win the Green Card Lottery. The official name of the lottery is the Diversity Visa Program, administered by the Department of State since 1995. If you are selected as a winner in the lottery program, and you can provide the necessary documentations that are required, you will be given a DV (Diversity Visa) visa to come to America and when you come, you will automatically receive a green card upon your arrival. The lottery program was introduced in the Immigration Act of 1990 to encourage immigration to America from countries that are underrepresented in the American society. What this means is that the American government wanted more different kinds of immigrants to immigrate to the country. Therefore, people who are from countries that generally do not produce immigrants to America have the highest chance of being selected for immigration while people from countries that have sent many immigrants to America have little or no chance at all with this program.

As of time of writing, the list of countries whose citizens are INELIGIBLE to participate in the lottery program are as follows:

  • BANGLADESH

  • BRAZIL

  • CANADA

  • CHINA (mainland-born)

  • COLOMBIA

  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

  • ECUADOR

  • EL SALVADOR

  • HAITI

  • INDIA

  • JAMAICA

  • MEXICO

  • PAKISTAN

  • PERU

  • PHILIPPINES

  • SOUTH KOREA

  • UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories

  • VIETNAM

Note: People from Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau are still eligible to apply.

 

Therefore, if you are a citizen of any of the countries listed above, you cannot apply for the lottery. You can try, but your entry will immediately be disqualified because it will ask you what is your country of citizenship and based on your response, you will be disqualified. You will need documentation of your identity, citizenship, education, finances when you are selected, so if you lie on the application entry, it won’t do you any good because you will not pass the review part of the program and will not get a visa. One way to work around this is to marry a person who is a citizen of a country that is eligible. For example, if you are Chinese and you marry a Japanese person, your Japanese spouse can apply for the lottery program and if selected as a winner, you both can immigrate to America because the program will give both the winner and the spouse a visa to come to America. In addition, you as a Chinese person can apply as well. For the question that asks your “chargeability of your citizenship” (we will get to that later), you can put down Japan (following our example) instead of China and now you are qualified as well.


How to Apply

So, let us get started. Firstly, there is absolutely no cost in applying for the visa. Any website, company or person that tells you that you need to pay to apply is lying and trying to take your money. The application is free, the entry is free, there is absolutely no reason to pay for submitting an entry except maybe for the photograph, which you also do not need to pay if you read on and follow my instructions.

Every year, the lottery opens up for applications and submissions in October. It is usually early October. The open submission period is only 1 month, so it typically closes early November. Therefore, it is important that you apply quickly when you see the program is accepting applications since the time window is very small. When you apply, you will typically be applying for entry 2 years from the date that you apply. This is due to the time it takes to announce the winners and also the time for processing. The results are usually announced in May of the next year. For example, if you apply in October 2012, you will get the results in May 2013, and you can begin processing and typically will be able to come to America late 2013 or more likely during 2014. You can only apply once. Do not attempt to submit multiple entries. You will be disqualified in doing so! However, if you are married, you can submit an entry and your spouse can submit an entry as well, doubling your chances together. Keep in mind, you have to use the country that is eligible for applying.

You can always visit the lottery program’s official site at any time. If the lottery is open for applying, it will show on the website that it is open for registration. The site to go to is

https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/

There is also a page on Department of State’s website that has up-to-date information about the lottery program. You can go here http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html to check out official notifications, official press releases and instructions. You will also need to use this website if you are a lucky winner to check the Visa Bulletin. We’ll cover that later but Visa Bulletin page is where you can view priority dates for the Diversity Visa interviews and applications.

Step 1

First thing is to take pictures. If you are a single person, you just need to take a picture of yourself. However, if you are married with children under 21, you will need pictures for everyone in the family. Even if your spouse/children do not intend on immigrating to America, which I don’t see why they wouldn’t, they still need to have their pictures taken and information submitted with your application. This is where you may have to spend money to apply and depending on how you do it, you may spend a lot or none, because the Department of State offers a free photo cropping web services here. However, please take a look at my post about how to take an immigration passport style photo here. You can easily do this, just follow the general instructions except upload the raw photo to the crop tool on Department of State’s website.

If you created the photo from online websites, you will need to crop the photo and make sure it is 600px by 600px. The image must be of .JPEG file format. It cannot be larger than 240 KB. If you use the Department of State’s crop tool, then you have an image ready to go since they make it 600px by 600px automatically AND will make the image under 240 KB.

Remember to take pictures of everyone in your immediate family (your spouse and children under 21 years old). This is necessary for the submission.

Step 2

Navigate to the website at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/. If it is currently the open submission period, you will see a message stating that the application system is open and click on the link to register for the Diversity Program. This online application is the only way to enter the Diversity Lottery and the application’s official name is DS-5501.

Begin by filling out the application. Most of it is straightforward.

  1. Full Name – you must use the name that exactly appears on your passport (or if you don’t have one, the most official government spelling of your name that WILL be used to create a passport)

  2. Date of Birth – in the format: day, month, year

  3. Gender

  4. City where you are born – you must answer truthfully and do not worry because this doesn’t really matter in selecting you as a winner

  5. Country where you are born – again, be truthful and this is not the answer that is counted for your citizenship

  6. COUNTRY OF ELIGIBILITY OR CHARGEABILITY FOR THE DV PROGRAM – this is the most important question on the application. If you are not a citizen of any of the countries listed as ineligible to participate, just put down your country of citizenship as in Question 5. However, if you are currently a citizen of a country that is ineligible to apply, BUT you have a spouse who has different citizenship or your parents have different citizenships, and they are of countries that are OK to apply, you should put their country of citizenship down. Following our example, assuming you are Chinese from China, and your spouse is from Japan, in this field, you would put down Japan, even if you currently do not have a Japanese passport. Another situation would be you were born in Canada, but at the time of your birth, your parents (or just one of them) were not citizens of Canada but instead citizens of Japan, you can put down Japan in this question and be qualified. Don’t try to put false information here, remember, getting selected is only half the battle. To actually receive the visa and green card you will have to go through many checks and applications fees. If you put false information, US Immigration will deny your visa application and you won’t be able to immigrate to America.

  7. Entry photographs – upload your photo here

  8. Mailing Address – it used to be that they mail your notification to this address. But these days notifications are online only, so I am not sure what they would send to the address. But put the English translation of your home address here.

  9. Country where you live today – put down answer truthfully. This does not impact your application.

  10. Phone number – optional

  11. Email address – this is important to write down correctly. Because as of the most recent Diversity Program, the only way of communication is via online email. The Department of State will no longer mail out an actual letter to notify or communicate with winners. Also, the current Diversity Program does not actively notify the winner. Everyone must go to https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ to check if they are a winner first, and if they are, there is an option to begin the process and that is when Department of State will use this email to communicate with you.

  12. Highest level of education – I assume that if you are reading and was able to find my website, you would have completed secondary school in your country. Put down the last level of education you achieved. High school is the minimal requirement for the Diversity Visa. This is the secondary school that most countries are the school you go to between the age of 15-18. Vocation school is typically the school you go to instead of high school, but it lasts longer and provides you with a specialized skill or trade. Remember do not lie on this question, you will have to provide documentation evidence to US Immigration to prove that you do have the education level you said you do.

  13. Marital Status – unmarried, married, etc

  14. Number of Children – this is where you list the number of all your children under 21. Even if you are no longer living with your children, you must list them here as well. The only children you do not have to list are if they are over 21 years of age or if they are already US Citizens or Permanent Residents.

  15. Spouse information – enter your spouse’s biographical information. You must list your spouse here even if your spouse do not intend on immigrating to America. Also if you are using your spouse’s country of citizenship to qualify, you MUST put their information down or at the time of interview your application will be rejected. You must also put down your spouse if you are planning on getting a divorce. Upload the spouse photo as well.

  16. Children Information – list all children that you mentioned you have in question 14. List all their relevant biographical information and also upload all their photographs.

Double-check your application for correctness. Submit the application and you are almost done!

Step 3

Print out the confirmation page. Or save it in your computer as a PDF or screenshot. This is important, because there is NO WAY to retrieve the confirmation after you submit your application. This confirmation is the ONLY way that you can know if you are selected as a winner. In the next year after you apply, you need to use this confirmation number to check if you are selected. Without this number, nobody can help you, the Department of State cannot help you to find your number and you would not be able to immigrate to America even if you were lucky and was selected. And you cannot contact the Department of State to check your application without this number because they simply won’t be able to locate your record without this number. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

Next Steps

 

The new year after you apply, some time in May, the https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ will open the Entrant Status Check. Remember to visit the site at that time to check if you are the winner. Make a reminder for yourself. The Entrant Status Check is open for a while so you have some time, but just remind yourself to check.

If you are selected, Congratulations! It is rare (if you are not from very remote countries) and you can celebrate, but only a little, because things may change. Last year they invalidated the results during May because of a computer error. Also you might not get a Diversity Visa even if you are selected since they select 125,000 winners for only 50,000 visas. This is because the Department of State anticipates that some winners will be disqualified because they lied on their application, died, or are unable to produce proper documents. But even if you were truthful and have all documents ready, if your visa priority number is really high (meaning you are way behind and will be one of the last applicants to be interviewed and considered) you still may not get the Diversity Visa and green card. Therefore, don’t do anything drastic yet, don’t sell your house, don’t sell your personal items, because the journey has just begun. Feel free to check out the guide here for Guide to Diversity Visa – if you are selected as a winner.