Being selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery is an important first step in the process to immigrate to the United States, but there are additional steps that must be completed successfully in order to be issued a Diversity Visa, also known as a US immigration visa or permanent resident visa. The next major step after selection in the DV-Lottery is the crucial Consular Interview stage.
Before the Consular Interview can be scheduled, a DV-Lottery winner must accurately fill out the DS-260 Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application (i.e., DS-260 Form) and submit it electronically to the US State Department’s Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). They must also print out a copy of the DS-260 Form because they will need to bring it with them to the Consular Interview. The KCC will review the information provided in the DS-260 Form and also let the applicant know if there are any problems or if more information is needed. After reviewing the information provided in the DS-260, if there are no problems that prevent further processing, then the KCC may next schedule a Consular Interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence (based upon information the applicant provides in their DS-260 Form).
The KCC will send the DV-Lottery winner an email informing them that the Consular Interview has been scheduled and instructing them to go to the US State Department’s Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website and login to the Entrant Status Check using the Confirmation Number they received when they registered for the DV-Lottery so they may see the location, date and time of their Consular Interview. The DV-Lottery winner will also be instructed to print out the notification of their scheduled Consular Interview because they will need to bring it with them when they go to the interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.
According to the US State Department, “You should prepare for your interview thoroughly and carefully. Failure to be fully prepared for your interview at the US Embassy or Consulate can result in delay or denial of your visa application.” Prior to the Consular Interview, DV-Lottery winners should go to the website of the US Embassy or Consulate where their Consular Interview will be held to check if there are specific instructions they must follow as DV-Lottery winners before and during their scheduled interview at that particular US Embassy or Consulate. If they need further clarification, they may want to contact the US Embassy or Consulate where their Consular Interview will be held.
The US State Department also states that the DV-Lottery winner and all family members “are required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized physician in the country where you will be interviewed. You must complete your medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your scheduled visa interview date. When your medical exam is completed, if you are given a medical exam envelope, you must bring it sealed (not opened) to your visa interview. Some physicians will send the medical exam results directly to the embassy or consulate.” A list of authorized physicians can be found on the US State Department E-DV website.
The DV-Winner, as well as their spouse and children who are also applying for a Diversity Visa (if applicable), will also need to have two identical photographs made of each Diversity Visa applicant according to the standards specified by the US State Department for DV-Lottery winners.
On the day of the scheduled Consular Interview, the main applicant who won the DV-Lottery and their “spouse and children (as applicable) who are applying for a diversity immigrant visa” will need to arrive on time (better to be early) at the US Embassy or Consulate where their interview is scheduled to be held. According to the US State Department, “If your spouse and/or qualified unmarried children will immigrate at a later date and travel separately from you, they are not required to participate in your interview. They will be scheduled for a separate interview appointment. You should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly to arrange separate interviews, if needed.”
The DV-Lottery winner and his/her accompanying family members will need to bring with them to the Consular Interview:
- two identical photographs of each family member who is applying for a Diversity Visa made according to the standards specified for DV-Lottery winners;
- the printout of their winning notification (which has the bar code and their Case Number on it);
- a printout of the notification of their scheduled Consular Interview;
- a printout of their DS-260 Form confirmation page;
- passports for each person who is applying for a US Diversity Visa which will be valid for at least six months after the date when the DV-Lottery winner and any accompanying family members plan to enter the United States as permanent residents;
- “original documents or certified copies of all applicable civil documents, and one photocopy of each document” (such as documentation related to meeting the education or work experience criteria for the DV-Program, birth certificates, marriage certificate, marriage termination document, child custody documentation, court records, police certificate, etc.);
- any other documents requested for the interview.
The non-refundable Diversity Visa Lottery fee will also need to be paid for each person who is applying for a Diversity Visa (i.e., the DV-Lottery winner, their spouse and all children, as applicable) before the Consular Interview, according to the specific instructions of the particular US Embassy or Consulate where the Consular Interview will occur. In 2020, the Diversity Visa Lottery fee was $330 USD for each person applying for a Diversity Visa, but please note that this amount is subject to change by the US government.
At the US Embassy or Consulate, a US State Department consular officer will interview the DV-Lottery winner and their accompanying family members and decide whether they should be issued a United States Permanent Resident Visa (Diversity Visa). During the Consular Interview, digital fingerprint scans of the Diversity Visa applicants will also be made. At the end of the Consular Interview, the consular officer will usually tell the DV-Lottery winner if their Diversity Visa Application was approved or denied. If they are approved for a US Diversity Visa, they will receive information regarding when and how their passport(s) containing the visa(s) will be returned to them. In the event that their application for a Diversity Visa is denied, they will receive an explanation as to why they are not eligible to be issued a Diversity Visa.
Those who successfully pass the Consular Interview stage will be issued a US Diversity Immigrant Visa on one of the pages of their passport. The US State Department recommends that those who have been granted a Diversity Visa carefully review the information in their visa to make sure that the spelling of the names and all the details are accurate and to promptly contact the US Embassy if there are any errors.
Those who are issued a Permanent Resident Visa to the United States will also be given a sealed package that will contain certain documents to be presented to US Customs and Border Protection officials at the airport or other US port-of-entry when they arrive in the USA. Do not open this package – it must remain sealed when presented to the US Customs and Border Protection officials upon arrival in the United States!
According to the US State Department, “You must arrive and apply for admission in the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. A diversity visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for less than six months.”
Furthermore, a fee must be paid to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after the Diversity Visa is issued and before arrival in the United States so that the United States Permanent Resident Visa Card (Green Card) may be issued (i.e., the Green Card will not be issued if the USCIS Immigrant Fee is not paid). In 2020, the USCIS Immigrant Fee was $220 USD for each person being issued a United States Permanent Resident Visa Card (Green Card).
It should be noted at this point that there is a distinction between the colorful Diversity Visa Immigrant Visa that is stamped inside the passport of a new US permanent resident (which authorizes them to initially enter the United States after a certain date and no later than a particular date – both specified on the visa) versus the hard plastic US Permanent Resident Card (i.e., “Green Card”) that is issued afterwards and is proof that the foreign national is a US permanent resident who is authorized to live, work and study long-term in the United States. In short, the Diversity Immigrant Visa stamped in the passport authorizes a foreign national to immigrate to the United States, while the hard plastic Green Card issued later is carried at all times as a form of identification after they move to America and it proves that they are a US permanent resident.
The US State Department recommends that children receive all necessary vaccinations prior to immigration to the United States since vaccination records will be required to enroll in school in the USA.
Finally, those who have been issued a Diversity Visa should hand-carry their chest x-rays with them when they immigrate to the United States, rather than pack them in their luggage, because they will need to present them to the officials at the US port-of-entry. Foreign nationals possessing valid Diversity Visas who are admitted into the USA will enter the country as “Lawful Permanent Residents” and be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States of America!