U.S. Department of State
Press Statement by James P. Rubin/Spokesman
August 25, 1997
Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-99)
Section 203(c) of the Immigration Act of 1990 makes available 55,000 permanent (immigrant) resident visas each year by random selection through a diversity visa lottery (DV-99). The DV-99 registration mail-in period will be held from noon on Friday, October 24, 1997 through noon on Monday, November 24, 1997.
How are the visas being apportioned?
The visas will be apportioned among six geographic regions. A greater number of visas will go to those regions that have lower immigration rates. There is a limit of seven percent or 3,850 on the use of visas by natives of any one foreign state.
The regions along with their fiscal year 1999 visa allotments are:
-- AFRICA: All countries on the continent of Africa and adjacent islands are eligible; 21,409 visas.
-- ASIA: All countries are eligible except China, both mainland and Taiwan born, India, Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam; 7,254 visas.
-- EUROPE: All countries are eligible except Great Britain (United Kingdom) and its dependent territories, and Poland; (Northern Ireland is eligible); 23,024 visas.
-- NORTH AMERICA: The Bahamas is the only eligible country in the region this year; (Canada is not eligible for this year's lottery); 8 visas.
-- OCEANIA: All countries in the region are eligible, including Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the countries and islands in the South Pacific; 837 visas.
-- SOUTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN: All countries in the region are eligible except Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, and Mexico; 2,468 visas.
Who is not eligible?
"High admission" countries are not eligible for the program. "High admission" countries are defined as those from which the United States has received more than 50,000 immigrants during the last five years in the immediate relative, family and employment preference categories. Each year, the Immigration and Naturalization Service adds the family and employment immigrant admission figures for the previous five years, to identify the countries which must be excluded from the annual diversity lottery. Since there is a separate determination made prior to each lottery entry period, the list of countries that do not qualify is subject to change each year. For 1999, "high admission" countries are: China (mainland and Taiwan), India, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Poland, United Kingdom and dependent territories, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, El Salvador, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply for the DV-99 lottery.
What are the requirements?
In addition to being born in a qualifying country, entrants must have either a high school education or its equivalent, or within the past five years have two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.
There is no initial application fee or special application form to enter. The entry must be typed or clearly printed in the English alphabet on a sheet of plain paper and must include the applicant's full name; date and place of birth for both the applicant and for the spouse or any minor children who might also wish to immigrate; the applicant's mailing address and, if possible, a telephone number; the applicant's native country if it differs from the country of birth; a recent (preferably less than 6 months old) photograph (1 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches) of the principal applicant with the applicant's name printed across the back of the photograph. (The photograph should be taped to the application with clear tape, not attached by staples or paper clips which can jam the mail processing equipment.) The applicant must also sign the entry using his or her normal signature, regardless of whether the entry is prepared and submitted by the applicant or someone else. (Only the principal applicant, not the spouse and children, needs to submit a signature and photograph.) This information must be sent by regular mail or air mail to one of six postal addresses in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Applicants must use the correct postal zip code designated for their native region (see addresses below). Entries must be mailed in a standard letter or business-size envelope with the applicant's native country, full name, and complete mailing address typed or clearly printed in the English alphabet in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. Postcards are not acceptable.
Only one entry for each applicant may be submitted during the registration period. Entries sent by express or priority mail, fax, hand, messenger, or any means requiring receipts or special handling will not be processed. Duplicate or multiple entries will disqualify individuals from registration for this program. Entries received before or after the specified registration dates regardless of when they are postmarked and entries sent to an address other than one of those indicated below are void. All mail received during the registration period will be individually numbered and entries will be selected at random by computer regardless of time of receipt during the mail-in period.
Where should entries be sent?
The mailing address for all entries is the same, except for the Zip Code. That address is:
National Visa Center
Portsmouth, N.H. Zip Code (see below)
The Zip Codes are as follows: Asia: 00210; South America/Central America/Caribbean: 00211; Europe: 00212; Africa: 00213; Oceania: 00214; and North America: 00215.
Why are you holding the registration for the DV lottery in October/November? Don't you usually do it February/March?
The National Visa Center typically receives between 6 to 7 million qualified entries during the registration mail-in period. The massive amount of entries creates an enormous amount of work in processing and selecting successful registrants. Moving the registration period to the Fall will ensure successful registrants are notified in a more timely manner. This will give both them and our Embassies and Consulates overseas a full fiscal year in which to process the necessary immigrant visas.
Is it necessary to use an outside attorney or consultant?
The decision to hire an attorney or consultant is entirely up to the applicant. Procedures for entering the diversity lottery can be completed without assistance following simple instructions. However, if applicants prefer to use outside assistance, that is their choice. There are many legitimate attorneys and immigration consultants assisting applicants for reasonable fees, or in some cases for free. Unfortunately, there are other persons who are charging exorbitant rates and making unrealistic claims. The selection of winners is made at random and no outside service can improve an applicant's chances of being chosen or guarantee an entry will win. Any service that claims it can improve an applicant's odds would be promising something it cannot deliver.
Persons who think they have been cheated by a U.S. company or consultant in connection with the Diversity Visa Lottery may wish to contact their local consumer affairs office or the National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday or (202) 835-0159; Internet address: http://www/fraud.org. (That number is only to report fraud and not to obtain information about application procedures for the DV lottery.) The U.S. Department of State has no authority to investigate complaints against businesses.
How will winners be notified?
Only successful registrants will be notified by mail at the address listed on their entry. The notifications will be sent to the winners between April and July 1998, along with instructions on how to apply for an immigrant visa, including a requirement for a special DV case $75 processing fee payable by only those individuals whose applications are selected and processed for DV-99 visas. Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements under U.S. law to be issued a visa.
Being selected as a winner in the DV Lottery does not automatically guarantee being issued a visa because the number of applicants selected is greater than the number of immigrant visas available. Those selected will therefore need to act on their immigrant visa applications quickly. Once the total 55,000 visas have been issued, the DV Program for fiscal year 1999 will end.
Where can one receive instructions to enter the lottery?
Information on entering the DV-99 program is available 24 hours a day in the U.S. by calling the Department of State's Visa Lottery Information Center at 1-900-884-8840 at a flat rate of $5.10 per call. Callers will first hear some basic information about the lottery and then will be requested to provide their name and address so that printed instructions can be mailed to them. Applicants overseas will continue to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for instructions on the DV lottery.
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