Hi all. As you may have learned from our About Us page, we also provide Diversity Visa Lottery services to our offline clients. In that context, I have been working with a particular selectee for several months now as part of our guidance service. He’s called Abraham, and I intend to feature his story in our Success Stories column once we are done with his entire process.
We filled in Abraham’s online DS-260 form on June 30, last year, and were waiting to receive his second notification letter (NL2), inviting him for interview. He however rang me some time in January to ask whether I had received any recent news regarding a new procedure which had come into force in the DV Lottery, as he was concerned about his case.
I had not received any such information prior to his call, and assured him that in case such information were true, he would definitely be informed by the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). Exactly as I had told him. He received an email about a month later, spelling out what the new regulation entails.
What does this procedure entail?
According to the mail sent to Abraham, the processing of his DS-260 form had been completed by KCC. But in order to continue processing his case, (and in addition to information included in the DS-260 form previously submitted), it was required of him to mail scanned copies of the following documents in JPEG or PDF format to KCC. And as usual, there were a number of regulations to follow: rules regarding the maximum size of the file(s), the email address it had to be sent to, the language of the documents, etc.
This is the first year that such a request has been made by KCC. In the past, selectees were only required to fill out the DS-260 form to be scheduled for interview. It was usually at the interview that they were asked to present copies of relevant documents. But Fiscal Year 2019 has seen a change in the procedure. A new step has been introduced between the filling of the DS-260 form and the receiving of the NL2.
The documents requested in this new step include:
- passport bio data page
- birth certificate
- military records (if the applicant is a past or present service personnel)
- police certificates from all countries where the applicant had resided (from the time he/she was 16 years of age)
- a certified copy of court and prison record (if the applicant had ever been convicted of a crime)
What does this procedure aim to achieve?
The DV interview is and has always been about proving that you – the applicant – are truly what you say you are. This new procedure only reinforces that reality. In the mail sent to Abraham, it is mentioned in bold that the applicant must submit the SAME documents to KCC that they will take to the interview. It further explains that their application could be delayed or rejected if there is any difference between both sets of documents.
As mentioned above, the old procedure required that you only go to your interview with (copies of) your documents. At the time, applicants who did not have all their documents in their possession prior to their interview could “slip through” by luck, in case the visa counselor was not keen to request a specific document that the applicant did not have on hand. But with this new procedure, that loophole has been sealed up, as a comparison will most certainly be made between what is submitted online and what is presented at the interview.
Moreover, non submission (electronically to KCC) of ANY of the documents concerned will prevent the applicant from receiving his/her NL2, thereby delaying and possibly preventing their interview. This is a measure aimed at streamlining the overall visa application process. Remember, the process of applying for a Diversity Immigrant Visa is a race against available space, on the one hand; and time, on the other. There are a limited number of diversity visas to be issued, and for any given DV year, all must be issued on or before September 30th.
This new procedure therefore constitutes another “checkpoint” on the road to visa issuance; it represents a new hurdle that applicants have to overcome to be issued a diversity visa.
What should you do, then?
The ball remains in the court of selectees. Once you receive your NL1, you must begin gathering relevant documents, as you will – sooner or later – be contacted to email electronic copies of those documents to KCC. I personally believe that in the near future (say a number of DVs down the road), the contents of this “document-requesting mail” (that’s how I’ll refer to it for now) will form part of the NL1, in order to reduce the steps in the application process.
Whenever that is done, you will still have to ensure that, first of all, you submit the required documents, observing relevant regulations, in the shortest possible time. Secondly – and even more importantly – do all within your power to ensure that absolutely nothing prevents you from being in possession of those exact documents at the time of your interview. In other words, do not let the documents submitted online to KCC be in any way altered, misplaced, or destroyed before your interview, as there would be absolutely no excuse for discrepancy or unavailability at the time of the interview.
More Changes Expected
As long as the EDV Lottery continues, we will regularly see modifications in the application process. In the same way that the mail version was replaced by the electronic version back in the early 2000s, there will be recurrent changes in the procedure, especially considering the age of technological advancement we live in. All these modifications are intended to counter check the pieces of information submitted by applicants and possibly expose flaws in them.
Abraham’s Case, to Conclude
As for Abraham our client, his case was quite easy. He had been in possession of his passport (which was used when filling in his DS-260 form) and birth certificate for the past four years. Moreover, he had never been convicted of a crime; neither had he ever served in the military. He therefore only had to acquire a police certificate, which he did within a week. Electronic copies of his documents have since been submitted.