The diversity visa (“green card”) lottery has undergone a host of changes in the past couple of years so this is a good time to summarize the revisions to the overall process.
First, there are minor changes to the registration dates. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs moves the 30-day open registration period by a few days each year. But as recent as 2009, the open registration period was a full 60 days—from early October to early December. Beginning with last year’s calendar year 2010 lottery (DV-2012) the open dates were reduced to only 30 days.
The dates for the calendar year 2011 lottery (DV-2013) are now from Tuesday, October 4th at 12:00 noon EDT (GMT-4) to Saturday, November 5th at 12:00 noon EDT (GMT-4). But the shorter registration period can stress applicants because during the last few days of the open registration period the DOS computer servers are usually overloaded with millions of last minute applications. Therefore, from a practical perspective, the open registration period is only about 3.5 weeks.
Second, the DOS updated the photograph requirements beginning in 2010. The key change was that scanned photographs must be at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (dpi), not 150 dpi as in previous years. Digital Images cannot exceed a file size of 240k and must be in 24-bit color in .jpg format. Fortunately, applicants can now check to make sure their photos meet the guidelines before they register for the lottery.
But perhaps the most critical change was for green card lottery winners. The DOS no longer mails letters to the 100,000 or so random “winners.” This was a welcome change because applicants from many third world countries with extremely slow postal services were literally forced to use a paid lottery service because response time was critical. Green card lottery services received the winning notices from DOS and, in turn, contacted the winner by phone or email so they could start the visa application process while the letter was being forwarded to the applicant.
In some cases corrupt local postal officials were known to hold up delivery of winning letters in exchange for a ransom, or in some cases, force winners into sham marriages in exchange for delivery. Other applicants did not know where they would be living after they applied.
Now, applicants can check their winning status online beginning May 1, 2012 as long as they keep their confirmation number from their entry. That may be the only downside to online status checking: applicants who lose their number cannot check their status and cannot win just like with any other lottery. But unlike most lotteries, the draw is not five months after their application.
Another change is the list of eligible countries. Applicants born in all countries are eligible except those from the list of “visa-ineligible countries.” Although this list is updated less frequently than the application dates, for the calendar year 2011 lottery there are two key changes: Poland is newly eligible and Bangladesh is ineligible. Since Bangladeshi applications contributed a whopping 52% of the total last year, this change could dramatically shrink the number of registrations for DV-2013.
Of course the downward slide in the U.S. economy could also reduce the incentive to apply. But most countries worldwide have an even worse economy than the U.S., making permanent residency in America still an attractive option for many.
Countries not eligible for this year’s lottery are: BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM. (Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible).
The eighth edition of Win the Green Card Lottery! has been updated with the latest rules from the U.S. State Department for DV-2013 and is the most comprehensive, current, and easy-to-read explanation of the diversity visa lottery program available. Get the very latest information so you can understand all the requirements before you apply, and successfully navigate the complex U.S. immigration system if you win.
Green card lottery applicants can register at the official government website at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1322.html