The DV Lottery, also known as the “Green Card Lottery” is a strange and confusing yet wondrous thing for anyone who wants the chance to live in the US permanently!
Since Clint was selected in May, I have been researching it every spare moment I have, to understand how it all works. Initially I thought that if you were ‘selected’ you have won! Congratulations, here’s your green card! But no, there is so much more to it than that! First of all, you are merely ‘selected’, and it is not guaranteed that you will get a green card. What you have gotten is the chance of applying for a Green Card! There are many other factors to actually getting it in your pretty little hands.
Let’s start with the basics of the DV Lottery for those who have never heard of it. Every year, the US government gives people a chance to enter a lottery to receive one (or several if a family) of 50,000 Green Cards (worldwide). Entry is open to anyone who was born in an eligible country and has 12 years or the equivalent of high school. Entry is open each year for one month from October to November via the Government DV Lottery website. You enter all of your details plus a photograph(specific size requirements) on the website and then wait till May the following year to check your entry. This will tell you if have been selected for processing that October-September (one year after entry!). For example, apply October 2013, find out May 2014 if selected, and then wait to be interviewed sometime between October 2014 and September 2015 for the fiscal year of 2015. You can view the full instructions for the DV here
Most people will see YOU HAVE NOT BEEN SELECTED stamped across their entrance check screen in May, including me year, but thankfully my partner C was luckier. For the few that receive the YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED notification, life is about to change!
Around 15 million people worldwide enter the DV Lottery yearly, so to be one of the 100,000 to be selected is pretty incredible when you think about the numbers. Upon selection, you get assigned a “Case Number”, which determines your interview date. Each month a “Visa Bulletin” is released which gives the Case Number (CN) cut offs for the upcoming 2 months, indicating which range of CN’s will be allocated an interview. So if the Visa Bulletin (VB) is saying the cut off is 400 for your region for October, and your number is under 400, you will be getting interviewed in October!
You may have realised from the numbers I have quoted above, that the selectees outnumber the actual green cards to be awarded (100,000 selected / 50,000 visas). This is done, I imagine, due to the number of people that may end up not being eligible or that won’t even submit their forms/rpoceed further. Being selected does not necessarily guarantee you that visa, as there is a chance you may not receive an interview date before the allocated visas for your region run out. This is often the disappointing case for a lot of selectees with high CN’s. Boy do I feel lucky we got such a low CN and I feel for those who don’t!
Now the waiting game begins. You can “guesstimate” when your interview may be by looking at previous years VB’s, but the one thing I have learnt over the last 4 months of DV researching, is that there is so much you can’t predict. We expected our interview to be January based on previous years…but now November has been announced with a cutoff of 400 which means we should be getting our second notification letter (2NL) with interview date soon!
The US Government site provides all the information you will need to have for your DV process which you can find here. The basic process is as follows:
- If selected, the first step is to make sure you are 100% eligible to proceed! The main requirement is that you have a Highschool qualification equivalent to 12 years in the U.S or 2 years work experience in the last 5 years (further details at above link)
- The next step is to fill in the DS-260 immigration form once it is announced that it is open for submission, which is now all online! There is a LOT of information you need to provide in this, including every address you have lived since 16 years of age and your work history for the last 10 years!
- Then you wait. Wait for your CN to become current and to receive your interview notification. It’s good to prepare any documents which may take a while to get to you in advance. See the list here. Things like official marriage/divorce certificates, overseas and Australian police checks, etc.
- You will also need to schedule and complete a Medical Interview prior to your interview. You will need vaccination records for required vaccinations, or blood-work to show what vaccinations you have received, otherwise you will be required to pay for and have administered any necessary vaccinations at the medical.
- Go to your interview and (hopefully) be successful in obtaining your green card!
The other thing I have discovered that may be useful to any new applicants/selectees is the plethora of fees/costs such as:
- Interview fee @ Sydney Consulate $330USD
- Medical fee (example is Medibank, Melbourne) $447AUD for medical, X-rays, syphillis test PLUS any vaccination costs either prior at GP or at the Medical
- National Police Check (Victoria ) $43.70AUD
- USCIS Immigrant Fee $165USD (must be paid BEFORE you plan to enter the States!)
- If you’re not in Sydney, cost of return airfares and accommodation for your interview date!
However, the MOST useful source I have found is this immigration forum. An absolute WEALTH of information with a specify DV Lottery section.
To update where we are at the moment, the October VB has been released with Oceania being 500, so we are expecting our 2NL sometime soon for a November interview date! We are hoping it will be anytime after the 8th November as we will be in Fiji from the 1st-8th, though that will obviously be cancelled/rescheduled if our interview does fall on the first week. Life is revolving around the Green Card at the moment! So just waiting again… waiting for the 2NL! Waiting to have a date so we can plan the rest of this year and figure out when we will make the big move. Continuing to ‘purge’ our belongings, culling our clothing, putting up so much stuff on eBay, figuring out how to transport other belongings back to our parents for storage, and getting quotes for shipping our beloved dog to LA with us. Plan, plan, plan!!! I love planning..but will feel a lot better when I can pinpoint a date!
UPDATE: Despite our number being current for November interviews, it appears there’s a backlog at the KCC which means we won’t get a Nov interview after all. We didn’t submit our forms till July 19, and I think only people who submitted forms by mid June will be going though in Nov. Ah well…just another month then and wait for a 2NL for December!