Unless you’ve been following the Diversity Visa Program for some time, you probably would find it difficult to understand the Application process. This article summarizes how the process is laid out.
Note: The DV APPLICATION process (discussed in this article) MUST NOT be confused with the DV Lottery Entry Process discussed HERE.
After Being Selected, What’s Next? (Step 1)
After a DV entrant checks his / her result and sees that they have been selected, their next line of action is to officially apply for a Diversity Visa. That is done by filling out and subsequently submitting the online DS-260 Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application form. The submission of the DS-260 form is what makes a selectee an (official) applicant for a United States Diversity Immigrant Visa.
Although this is the next necessary action on the part of selectees, your case number – mentioned at the end of your selection letter – is what should naturally determine when you are to submit the form. Moreover, rushing to submit could cause you to later realize errors, and give you uncalled-for headache. So, DON’T RUSH to submit the form!
To access the DS 260, go to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) section of the State Department’s official website. You will need your case and confirmation numbers to access the DS-260 form(s).
Other Things to Consider
1. A DS-260 must be filled out for each applicant in your case: for yourself – the primary entrant; for each secondary entrant who entered the Lottery with you (in case there was); as well as for added eligible members – a spouse or child(ren), for example – who legitimately joined your family AFTER you entered the Lottery.
2. Entering inaccurate information on your DS-260 – if not overlooked – could cost you your Diversity visa. Seek relevant advice, if necessary.
3. Each DS-260 submission is followed by a confirmation page. Be sure to print each out. You will need to take it/them along to your visa interview.
Note: Successful DV entrants who are present in the United States at the time of their selection in the DV Lottery may file an Application to Register Permanent Residence known as ‘Adjustment of Status’, by filling out and submitting online form I-485, and NOT the DS-260.
Step 2: Sending In Your Documents
After the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC, who are responsible for processing DV cases) receive and validate the DS-260 application forms for you and any accompanying family member(s), they will send you an email requesting you to send them a list of required documents.
The email from KCC will contain detailed instructions regarding the sending of your documents. Carefully follow the instructions included in the email, and send ALL of the documents requested to the designated email address, using the specified format.
Note: Failure to strictly follow the instructions could result in your interview being delayed.
A ‘documents received’ confirmation email immediately follows the submission of your documents. That is just an automatic response by the system set up at KCC. After a number of weeks, you are to receive the actual confirmation email.
By this time, you must have familiarize yourself with and begun to follow the Diversity Visa Section of the State Department’s monthly-published Visa Bulletin. (The sooner you get to understand and begin to follow the Visa Bulletin, the faster the pieces of the puzzle will come together).
In Case of No Confirmation
In case you do not receive the ‘documents received’ confirmation email from KCC several weeks after sending in your documents, especially if case numbers shown in the Visa Bulletin are getting close to yours, then you must promptly contact KCC to ascertain the status of your documents.
If you are told by KCC that they are not in possession of your documents, do not hesitate to resend the documents as you did before – without delay. And if they do not respond to your communication, insist until you get a confirmation from them that they are in possession of your documents and that they are satisfied with them, before you rest.
Step 3: The Interview
What’s Required, to be Scheduled for Interview
Submitting a complete and valid DS-260 application for each eligible family member and providing copies of ALL required documents to KCC (with confirmation of the submission) are the two actions on your part that would make your case ready for interview.
However, your interview will not happen until your case number becomes current. We say your case number has become current when, according to the Visa Bulletin, it’s your turn to be interviewed. In most cases, it takes several months for that to happen. It could even take more than a year before you are interviewed. This calls for much patience on your part. When your case number finally becomes current, then you will receive your second/interview notification letter (the first was for being selected), inviting you to your Diversity Visa interview.
The Timing of Your Interview
Diversity visa interviews for a given DV program are conducted throughout that program’s fiscal year, beginning on October 1 and ending on September 30, the following year.
Interviews start at the lowest case number in the region and progress in ascending order as the fiscal year goes on. The lower your case number in your region, the sooner your interview; and the higher your case number, the later your interview. To know the approximate time of the fiscal year when your interview will be, consult past Visa Bulletins and keep track of current ones.
Note: Cases with extremely high case numbers in their region may never be invited for interview, as the 55,000 visas usually get exhausted before such cases are attended to.
That is why applicants are advised to complete both actions at least a couple of months before their case number becomes current. Although no deadlines are attached to the DS-260 submission and sending of documents, carrying out these actions very late in the fiscal year – rather than early on – presents the risk of you not receiving a Diversity Visa.
Note: The Visa Bulletin will give you an idea of the approximate time of the year when it will be ‘your turn’ to be interviewed. (Read this article for detailed explanation).
Your Interview Notification
Assuming you’ve carried out both actions mentioned above, whenever your case number becomes current (follow Visa Bulletin), you will be informed by an email from KCC requesting you to check the status of your entry, just as you did to know your result. At that point, you’ll find that your selection notification letter will be replaced by your interview notification in the Entrant Status Check. So, you have to check your email or access Entrant Status Check regularly as your case number gets closer to becoming current.
The replacement of the Selection Notification by the Interview Notification in the Entrant Status Check generally occurs between six to nine weeks to the interview.
Preparing for Your Interview
Your interview notification letter will include your interview details, a number of instructions, and a link to relevant webpages containing more instructions. Read it carefully, and follow all the instructions in it to the letter, especially taking into consideration your interview date and time. Missing your interview could cost you your Diversity Visa.
Also consult the official website of the embassy or consulate where you are to be interviewed for instructions and how-to-do-s, specific to that embassy or consulate. Upon receiving your interview notification letter, you will need directions regarding a medical examination you and all other applicants in your case must undergo, for example.
On the day of your interview, be present and on time. Your interview should surround information about you / your case. If you provided accurate and truthful information about yourself / your case, and followed all of the instructions throughout the process, there should be no reason why you will be denied a Diversity Visa.
Immediately after your interview, you will get to know if you have been issued a Diversity Visa or not.
After the Interview
If you are not successful, you will be told the reason for the denial.
If, on the other hand, you are successful, you will be asked to return at a later date to pick your passport(s) containing your Diversity visa(s), along with a sealed package to be handed to the USCIS (U. S. Immigration) officer upon your arrival in the United States. DO NOT open the package!
Your Diversity Visa will indicate a deadline for your entry into the United States. You usually have up to six months, counting from the date of your medical examination, to arrive in the country.
Your travel arrangement and expenses are all YOUR responsibilities; the U. S. Government has no part in it.
Wishing you all the best!