Immigrant Visa Information

Overview

In general, a person who wishes to immigrate to the United States must have a petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying for an immigrant visa. The petition is filed either by a qualified relative or a potential employer at a USCIS office in the United States. Specific information about filing immigrant petitions is available on the USCIS website.  An individual with an approved petition and a priority date that is current for processing (when applicable) is eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or K nonimmigrant visa.

Visa Lottery Notice

VISA:  DIVERSITY VISA PROGRAM – DV-2016

Diversity Visa-2016 opens for electronic entries at noon, Eastern Daylight Time, Wednesday, October 1, 2014, and closes at noon, Eastern Daylight Time, Monday, November 3, 2014.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV) makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas each year, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Applicants can access the electronic DV entry form (E-DV) at the official E-DV website: www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period.  DV instructions are also available on the Department of State’s public webpage at http://www.travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/DV-2016-Instructions-Translations/DV_2016_Instructions_English.pdf.  DV entries are only accepted through the E-DV site, which has complete instructions.  There is no fee to enter.  All entrants must print and retain their online confirmation page after completing their DV entries so that they will be able to check their entry status as explained below. 

Starting May 5, 2015, entrants may enter their DV-2016 entry confirmation number into the Entrant Status Check, available at www.dvlottery.state.gov, to find out whether their entry was selected or not.  Subsequently, selected individuals who respond to the notification instructions provided on the E-DV selectee confirmation page on Entrant Status Check will also receive notification of their scheduled IV appointment through Entrant Status Check.  DV-2016 data will be available through Entrant Status Check until at least June 30, 2016.  All entrants should keep their confirmation numbers until September 30, 2016, whether they are initially selected or not.

The section of the law establishing the DV program limits the list of “eligible countries” to those countries from which fewer than 50,000 persons in various visa categories immigrated to the United States during the previous five years.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) modifies the list of eligible countries for each year’s DV program on the basis of this five-year calculation.

Countries whose natives are ineligible for DV-2016 are BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, NIGERIA, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.  A “native” ordinarily means someone born within a particular country, regardless of the individual's current country of residence or nationality.  Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

Please consult the Department of State’s website at http://www.travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/DV-2016-Instructions-Translations/DV_2016_Instructions_English.pdf for complete information about participating in the current DV program. 

Please consult the fraud warning for internet scams related to DV at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/fraud.html

Questions and Answers

Q: How was this error discovered?

- The results showed a pattern that was inconsistent with the statistical outcome expected from a random selection; more than 98 percent of the selectees had registered for the DV program on the first two days of the 30-day registration period.

Q: Why is it necessary to invalidate the results and run a new selection?

- The Immigration and Nationality Act requires that Diversity Immigrant Visas be made available on a strictly random basis. Since the computer programming error resulted in an outcome that was not strictly random, the outcome does not meet the requirements of the law. Relying on the original results also would have meant unfairly disadvantaging many DV entrants.

- The Department has long made the DV random selection with the aid of computer software. For the 2012 program, a new computer program was used which failed to run a random process. This is the first problem of this sort to occur in the 15 years of conducting a computer-aided drawing for the DV program.

Q: What about people who checked the website last week and thought they had won? Aren't you taking visas away from them?

- Selection in the DV process does not guarantee anyone a visa. It provides selectees only with an opportunity to apply for a visa.

- We regret that incorrect results were posted on our DV Entry Status Check webpage before this problem was discovered and resolved. Any information that appeared on the Entry Status Check website between May 1 and May 6, 2011, is void and invalid.

- We understand that some people who viewed the confirmation website and thought they had been selected are disappointed, and we deeply regret any inconvenience or disappointment that this error caused.

- Everyone who submitted a valid DV entry for the 2012 selection will have an equal chance to be selected when the new, corrected random process is run.

Q: Do you believe the software was intentionally corrupted or hacked?

- No. This appears to be solely a computer programming error. We have no evidence that this resulted from any intentional act. We also have no evidence that any outside party accessed any data related to the DV program.

Q: Did you invalidate the results because too many winners came from a particular country?

- No. The distribution of results by country fell within a normal statistical range. The distribution of selectees by date of registration, however, showed that the program gave unequal weight to the date of registration. More than 98 percent of the selectees had registered on the first two days of the registration period.

Furthermore, the law that established the DV program stipulates that applicants from a single country cannot be issued more than seven percent of the available visas in any one fiscal year.

Q: Will you reopen the entry period?

- No. We will rerun the computer selection with the qualified DV entries received during the official entry period (October 5, 2010 to November 3, 2010). It is not necessary to resubmit entries. DV confirmation numbers provided to check results on our Entry Status Check webpage are still valid.

Q: When will the new selection be run? When will correct results be available on your website?

- We expect new results to be available on the Entry Status Check webpage on or about July 15, 2011.

Q: How much did this error cost the U.S. government?

- Because the problem was corrected before any DV applications were processed, the financial impact is minimal.

New Filing Instructions for Petitioners in Singapore

Effective August 15, 2011, petitioners residing in Singapore, where USCIS does not have a public counter presence, must file their Forms I-130 by mail with the USCIS Chicago lockbox. U.S. Embassies and Consulates that do not have a USCIS presence will only be able to accept and process Forms I-130 in exceptional circumstances, as outlined below. Forms I-130 that were properly filed at an Embassy or Consulate overseas where USCIS does not have a presence before August 15, 2011, will not be affected by this change.

USCIS Chicago Lockbox addresses for regular mail deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107

USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: I-130
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

For additional information about how to file a Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago lockbox, visit the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov or contact USCIS by telephone in the U.S. at 1-800-375-5283.

USCIS Immigrant Fee

Effective December 23, 2016, all individuals issued immigrant visas overseas must pay a $220.00 USCIS Immigrant Fee before traveling to the United States. Only prospective adoptive parents whose child(ren) is(are) entering the United States under either the Orphan or Hague Process, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, who were employed by the U.S. government, returning residents, and those issued K visas are exempt from the new fee. The below USCIS website has more details on the new fee, including contact information for USCIS, if there are further questions: www.USCIS.gov/immigrantfee

Exceptional Filing

Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners who believe their situation merits an exception may request the Consular Section to accept the filing. Each request will be evaluated individually.

A petitioner seeking to file a Form I-130 should contact the Consular Section to request consideration for exception and explain the circumstances in detail. The Consular Section will then relay the request for an exception to the USCIS field office with jurisdiction over the Embassy. The determination of whether the case presents exceptional circumstances which warrant an exception to the general filing process will be made by USCIS. USCIS will publish guidance on the circumstances that may qualify as exceptional on their web site.

Medical Requirements

All applicants must undergo a medical exam by an Embassy-approved Panel Physician. Information about the medical exam can be found here. You will receive instructions about how to schedule an appointment for your medical exam from NVC or the Embassy. Do not try to make an appointment before receiving these instructions.

Fee Payments

Any fee payments related to immigrant visas must be paid directly to the Embassy. Do not make any payments online or to any bank.

Embassy Appointment

If you have an interview date, you must appear at the Embassy on the date of your appointment. You should arrive at the Embassy fifteen minutes before your appointment. Please read about security restrictions at the Embassy that describe what you can and cannot bring with you to your interview. You should bring your appointment letter and the documents required for your visa class.

Visa Delivery

All immigrant visa applicants must arrange for Aramex to deliver their newly-issued visa. This courier service is provided for no additional fee. You must choose the location where you wish to have your visa delivered prior to scheduling your interview. You can choose your delivery location here. Either you or your representative must have your Immigrant Case Number (as shown in the Embassy notification letter) available if calling the call center to register your visa delivery preference.