Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now! (36101)

The deadline for the annual Diversity or “Green Card” lottery is fast approaching. The DV Program is one of the few options available for immigrants to get a green card to live and work in the U.S.

Online registration for the DV 2014 Program concludes Saturday, Nov. 3, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time.

For the 2013 fiscal year, 50,000 diversity visas will be available, but nationals of Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (Mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam and the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories are excluded from entering the lottery.

You must have either a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform in order to enter.

The annual DV program makes visas available to persons meeting simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. A computer-generated, random drawing chooses selectees for DVs. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, and within each region, no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year. Visas are allocated to nationals of countries with historically lower rates of U.S. immigration. Nationals of countries who have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past five years are not eligible to apply for the Diversity Visa program.

All instructions including size of photographs to be submitted with the online application can be accessed at http://travel.state.gov/pdf/DV_2013_instructions.pdf.

Undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. can enter the lottery but should they win, may not be able to claim the visa since they face a 5-10 year ban should they leave and try to return to the United States after living here without legal working papers.

Applicants should be wary of scams related to the DV Lottery. Some companies posing as the U.S. government have sought money in order to “complete” applications, but applicants are warned that paying for the service will not increase or “bump” your application forward.

The Department of State has issued warnings on a number of websites stating that there have been instances of fraudulent websites offering assistance for a fee to apply for the Diversity Visa Program. While DV 2012 and DV 2013 applicants may receive an email from the U.S. government reminding them to check their status online through DV Entrant Status Check, they will not receive a notification letter or email informing them that they are a successful DV entrant. Applicants can only find out if they were selected to continue with DV processing by checking their status online through the DV Entrant Status Check at www.dvlottery.state.gov.

Finally, remember that fees for the DV application process are paid to the U.S. Embassy or consulate cashier only at the time of your scheduled appointment. The U.S. government will never ask you to send payment in advance by check, money order or wire transfer.

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.