2:00 p.m. EDTMODERATOR:
I would like to (inaudible) this afternoon. Ms. Doni Phillips. She’s (inaudible) at the State Department, and she will be giving you the overview for the Visa Lottery – the registration program. You’ll be able to ask your questions when she’s finished. Please make sure that your cell phones are off. And when you’re asking your questions, if you could state your name and your news organization.MS. PHILLIPS:
Hello, everyone. You’re here to hear about the DV 2011 lottery. We’re happy to have you here.
You may be familiar with the lottery, maybe not. It’s – very little has changed from last year, which is a good thing for countries that were in last year, and I’m sure they’re happy to see that they’re still in. The Diversity Visa lottery is mandated by Congress. It’s mandated by a U.S. law. And under that law, 50,000 visas are made available every year for immigrants from countries that have low rates of immigration to the United States.
And every year the U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services compiles statistics on immigrant admissions to the U.S., and they look back for five years, and countries that have more than 50,000 immigrants coming in are not eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery. And this year, no changes have been made to the list. It’s the same as last year. So last year, for DV 2010, Russia was added, Kosovo was added. They’re still in, and no countries have been dropped from the list this year.
On the numbers of visas that are available per country, there’s a statistical determination made, but at a maximum, only 3,500 can go to any one country. It’s 7 percent of the available visas for one year, so that’s 3,500. Each year, we open up an entry period. Under our laws, we must have at least a 30-day entry period, but we usually allow two months to give people time to submit their entries.
This year at noon on Friday, October 2nd
, the Diversity Visa Lottery will be open for electronic entries. And it will be – it’ll close at noon on November 30th
, so almost two months, not quite, this year. But we always time our lotteries so that people don’t have to come in on the day after Thanksgiving or on that Thanksgiving weekend. So we try to make it easy on our computer folks.
So as people are thinking about entering the lottery, we always try to emphasize the fact that there’s no fee to enter the lottery. And anyone that is charging a fee, it’s not the State Department, it’s not the government. And we really want to encourage everyone to enter the lottery themselves to – we try to make it as easy as possible. And we really would like to have people keep their personal information to themselves and submit it on line, rather than giving it to a company that might hold that information and maybe not use it in a way that a Diversity Visa entrant might like. So we really do encourage that, and we try to make it as easy as possible.
As people enter – submit their entry into the lottery, they will receive a confirmation number at the end and be able to print out the confirmation page. And that confirmation page is very, very important because about, I think, maybe seven months later, beginning July 1st
of the following year, they can use that confirmation page to go online and check and see if their entry was a successful entry or whether they were not selected. And this helps people who aren’t quite sure whether – maybe they were selected and – but they never got a letter, maybe somebody is – maybe somebody intercepted their letter in the mail. And so this is a way that they can really be sure and not have that kind of nagging uncertainty about the lottery. So we really do encourage people to hold on to that information, and they can only get that information if they submit their own DV entry.
So for successful entrants – and we do select about between 90 and 100,000 selectees, because not everybody qualifies for an immigrant visa at the end of the day – but we send those letters out to people starting in about May of the following year, and those go out by mail. They go from our Kentucky Consular Center. And we have a whole center out in Kentucky that manages the program for us, and they collect information from entrants and do communications with entrants who are selected.
So they will – they’ll be sending out the letters. And everyone who is selected does get a letter by mail, but the people who are not selected can find out that they were not selected by going online to our website. And it’s – the website is www.dvlottery.state.gov
, the same website as we’ve used for several years.
So do you have a question?QUESTION:
Yes. Why is there not possible notification by email? My name is Zoltan Mikes. I’m from the World Business Press Online news agency, Slovakia. MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, we are looking at that. This year, for the first time, we’re --
Well, even – every year, on the site --MS. PHILLIPS:
-- you are looking –MS. PHILLIPS:
Right. We’re – this year we are requiring people to submit an email address. But mostly, for anti-fraud purposes, we’re still going with regular mail and sending out a letter from our Kentucky Consular Center. There’s only one Kentucky Consular Center, and it’s – until we can make sure that our letters aren’t being sent out by other people or spoofed and appear to be sent out from the Department of State, we really – we’re sticking with mail. That may change.QUESTION:
Yeah, that may change in the future. And every year, our fraud prevention teams are looking at the program and trying to find ways to make it less prone to fraud, less prone to abuse by people who are hoping to try to make money off of the program and taking money from our applicants. QUESTION:
So what if the notification is lost in the mail and they (inaudible)?MS. PHILLIPS:
If people – say, they go online and they find out, you know, I was selected, but I didn’t – I’ve never gotten a letter, or they find out that someone’s holding their letter and will give it back to them for $3,000 or something like that, what they can do is contact the Kentucky Consular Center, and they will mail them a new letter and packet of instructions directly to them. And so it’s a way to circumvent problems of people stealing mail with people trying to extort money from our selected entrants.QUESTION:
Just to follow up, contact them – the Kentucky – by mail or by phone or --MS. PHILLIPS:
They have – if you go on the – go on our travel-dot – state.gov website, there’s contact information on the website for the Kentucky Consular Center, and they do take phone calls and they also answer email. So – but they’re very nice. They have very nice accents in that part of the world, and everyone comments on how friendly they are. They’re – it’s – people really like to talk to them, and they like to help people, too.
So on the point of being selected in the lottery, the reason why we send letters to 90 to 100,000 people is that not everybody qualifies. They’ll submit their entry and end up not being qualified on educational grounds, or don’t have the proper work experience, or have submitted an entry that has to be disqualified on its face. So on – the educational requirements are that successful DV applicants must show that they have the equivalent of a 12-year U.S. education, a high school education. And some people aren’t able to show that. If they’re not able to show that, then they can, if some – they may possibly be able to qualify on work experience and work training, although that is a pretty – it’s a relatively high hurdle. They have to show that they have two years of experience and the last five years in an occupation that requires a significant amount of training.
And in order to – someone, say they didn’t graduate from high school, but they did study and they became a business manager or they have – they became an electrical engineer of other ways or something – they can go online and we have – the website’s listed in our instructions. It’s hosted by the Department of Labor – put in all their information and find out if their qualifications would meet the hurdle for work experience. And it is a relatively high hurdle.
For example, an electrician would not qualify for a DV, but an electrical engineer would. You – someone who is – maybe does go to a trade school for a couple of years, they still may not be able to meet the work requirement just because they went to school for a few years. So everyone has to look at their own situation and determine whether or not they meet that. It’s important for people to analyze their own situation realistically, because they have to pay fees up front and fees aren’t refundable.
So people that – they know that they don’t have the educational – they don’t meet the educational requirements or the work requirements and just hope that maybe they might be deemed qualified to say – they might be okay; they’ll lose their money and we don’t want to take money from people who aren’t qualified. But we don’t pre-adjudicate the cases. They have to make their way to a Consular officer and have their cases reviewed. So --QUESTION:
How much is the fee?MS. PHILLIPS:
The – I believe the total fees are $750.QUESTION:
For one family?MS. PHILLIPS:
Per person. It’s a – so that’s why it’s – people need to really take a hard look at whether or not they qualify. So we --QUESTION:
What for? Sorry.MS. PHILLIPS:
What for is this amount of money?MS. PHILLIPS:
It’s to administer the entire lottery. Every – it’s – people that win the lottery pay for the lottery, basically. And so the DVP is – for the Diversity Visa Lottery Program costs, there’s an immigrant visa fee because it’s an immigrant visa. And --QUESTION:
So it’s 750 plus the visa fee? Does it cover everything or -- QUESTION:
Yeah, I believe it is, and I’ll have to get back to you on that. We – our fees have been – are changing occasionally, so I’ll get that information for you so I can break it down for you.QUESTION:
(Inaudible.) So the President will pay for these (inaudible), yeah?MS. PHILLIPS:
After – when they go to apply at the Consulate or Embassy, that’s when they pay the fee. And so when – they get scheduled for an interview, and when they go to the Embassy, they pay the Embassy cashier. So they don’t mail their money in, they don’t send it by Western Union, it doesn’t go through the mail. It’s paid at a window.QUESTION:
So registration is (inaudible)? MS. PHILLIPS:
Registration is fee – it’s free, yes.QUESTION:
Thank you. Okay. Well, what is a (inaudible)? Will people be turned away?MS. PHILLIPS:
Every region has a number of fee – the total – the 50,000 assigned to it. And as people are selected, they’re given a rank order number. And during the year, different – we might have different demands from different regions. All the – we – the regions – there’s Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, North America and South America, I believe. QUESTION:
So it’s first come, first served?MS. PHILLIPS:
So – well, it’s first selected, first given the – the letters go out in rank order, so --QUESTION:
So people have to respond, as in a date, to get (inaudible)? MS. PHILLIPS:
Right, right, and if people don’t respond to the letter they get and don’t give the information to KCC that KCC needs, then they might lose out on an opportunity. QUESTION:
So can they get their money back if they --MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, they don’t pay the fee until they get to the – actually get to the Embassy. And it’s – the program, it ends at midnight on the – the last year, it ended at midnight, last night. So DV 2009 just ended; we’re starting DV 2010 today for people that were selected for DV 2010. And entries for DV 2011 are coming in on – beginning to come in on Friday. So every – at one point in time, we have three programs kind of in the works. And so interviews for DV 2010 are being – have been scheduled, and people will start being interviewed starting right now, basically. So it’s one year at a time.
Yes, my name is (inaudible). I’m from (inaudible). It’s okay for – it’s permitted for people to submit or to resubmit their application every year? There is no condition that – and I have a question with regard – people who are working here in the States, who are living here and working or (inaudible). Are they allowed to submit this visa, and will it make a difference for them regarding living here, having a Social Security number --MS. PHILLIPS:
-- owning a house or something, (inaudible)? MS. PHILLIPS:
Okay. Well, I’ll start with the first question. People can submit entries year after year. The thing that people have to be careful about is to make sure that what they’re submitting is an accurate entry, because if you have new family members – if, say, your family has expanded, you have a new baby, you get married, something like that, those people have to be added in to your entry. You have to submit all of your family members in your entry at one time. And so that can be a problem for people who have given their biographical data and photos to some company that then will begin submitting that entry without those people’s permission again and again. Meanwhile, these people are having children and -- QUESTION:
Changes in their --MS. PHILLIPS:
-- changes in their family. And so that is disqualifying if you don’t submit all your existing family members along with your entry. As far as people who are here inside the U.S. studying or working or whatever, they can put their entries into the lottery and they can adjust status with the USCIS, with the Department of Homeland Security. And it’s – one thing that we always caution people about, however, is that if – they shouldn’t wait until the very last minute to try to adjust status, because it’s a process, and if they’re waiting until the end of September to do that, they might not make the cutoff date. So --QUESTION:
So what do you do (inaudible) illegals? To follow-up, how about the illegal in the U.S.?MS. PHILLIPS:
Oh, that’s – yeah, that’s a good question. There are no waivers available for the Diversity Visa. And so if someone is illegally here and would be ineligible for a visa, they won’t receive an adjustment. Anyone who is actually – who is out of status inside the U.S., they won’t be adjusted by USCIS into a Diversity Visa immigrant status.
So I have someone from New York? QUESTION:
Yeah, good afternoon. There are so many questions in mind. But anyway, would you kindly just explain for a better understanding (inaudible) the country has got more than 50,000 visa (inaudible) from the list, and a single country will be allowed to get 3,500 only. So would you kindly tell me how Bangladesh looks like and how – what was the number last time? MS. PHILLIPS:
I actually don’t know what the – we only get sort of a yes or a no from USCIS as to what countries are included and which ones are not included. So Bangladesh is on the list this year, so obviously, they have sent fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the last five years. I don’t know how close Bangladesh is, frankly. They do – there is a lot of interest in Bangladesh for Diversity Visas. QUESTION:
It’s like the 3,500 people get the lottery from (inaudible), but, you know, they are missing, like, 1,500 and (inaudible) the 50,000 mark. So what will happen? Who will be excluded from that opportunity? MS. PHILLIPS:
I don’t know if I understand your question. QUESTION:
Well, say, like if – suppose (inaudible) 35,000 or 40,000 of – I mean, like, 37,000 (inaudible) and people – I mean, 3,500 Bangladesh people who won the lottery. So there is 500, you know, above that 50,000 number. MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, I guess USCIS would add that up and would let us know next year if Bangladesh was still eligible or not. They – people coming in with Diversity Visas, they are counted in – these are immigrants, so they’re counted in the annual count. USCIS keeps annual statistics, and they’re – they have a pretty good – it’s DHS.gov – they have a whole statistical section that provides a lot of immigration statistics that they compile and release every year. So you might want to look at that and see what – where Bangladesh is at. QUESTION:
Okay. Thank you very much. MS. PHILLIPS:
Thank you. QUESTION:
How do you prevent people from multiple applications? MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, we – people submit their entries and they’re computerized. We do look at those and compare them to one another to – and pick out the ones that submit multiple entries. So someone who submits five different entries with five slightly different names and five different hairdos or something, what – we will find those and we will kick those people out of the lottery. QUESTION:
So they’re totally out, they (inaudible)? MS. PHILLIPS:
They’re out. Yeah, they don’t get – they don’t get four kicked out and then we give them the one. We just – they’re disqualified. So we – it’s – because that’s – we consider that to be a disqualifying factor for fraud. Yes.
Hi. I’m Lauren McGaughy from the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, a Japanese newspaper. Just for logistical – kind of coloring it up a little bit, you said that – to make sure that you have the proper education level before you apply. But does – so that means you can get through the process and be at the approval stage and have paid the fee, but not have that education level that – do – so you don’t screen for that before it gets to the approval stage? Is that correct? MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, we – because it’s an adjudication of people’s qualifications, so they present those to us at the time of interview – their credentials, their transcripts or whatever they use to show that they have the educational equivalent. So, we want to talk to them, we want to interview them, so we don’t prescreen for that. QUESTION:
And one more follow-up question. This might seem like a silly question, but does the U.S. foreign policy towards any specific country affect its standing in the lottery in terms of if there is strained relations between any country and the U.S.? MS. PHILLIPS:
It’s purely based on immigration totals and people coming into the U.S. So we – for example, the United Kingdom, they’re not eligible, but lots of other countries are eligible that we may not even have diplomatic relations with right now. So it’s purely numbers-based. QUESTION:
I have a question regarding a photo, because the requirements on the photo submission changed from the last year. That is one question. The second question is about a number. Does it – is it true that the higher number among the applicants in one country means that the chances are over of the higher number confirmation on the selection --MS. PHILLIPS:
-- number or something like this, I don’t know the (inaudible). And the third question is what will happen if somebody applies as single or (inaudible) person and gets married after he gets a notification? Is the wife included? They – or if they get married (inaudible), is the wife included or what (inaudible)? MS. PHILLIPS:
Okay, all right. On the federal requirements, we updated them to make them mesh better with the – with our photo validator so that it matched what our photo validator was saying, and matched more carefully the technical instructions that were – that are required for the photo.
So it’s basically the same. It’s a 600-by-600 pixel picture, and it needs to be clear and straight on and against a light background, and it needs to be a person. We’ve seen – sometimes people try to submit pictures of their cats or different kinds of things, and those do get caught and get kicked out. So I guess they’re testing the system or something like that. QUESTION:
You went through every application, one by one? MS. PHILLIPS:
They – it’s – because it’s computerized, they are scanned through a variety of quality control checks. So they all do get scanned, maybe not by a – through levels, I guess. And at a certain point, a person is looking at the selected entries and making a determination if they’ve submitted the right entry. QUESTION:
Yes, (inaudible.) MS. PHILLIPS:
Oh, I’m sorry. And you had a question about rank order. Yeah, some – every month in our – the State Department visa bulletin, the cutoff numbers and dates are announced. And for Diversity Visa Lottery, sometimes they will – they’ll show for a certain region or a certain country that people with a rank order number below a certain number, those people are eligible to now apply for a visa. So as they – as you move through the year, you may get two or three at the very end of the line. You might get in there, if there’s not a lot of demand from other regions, or you may just not end up being able to apply that year.QUESTION:
(Inaudible) single and married – single (inaudible)? MS. PHILLIPS:
Oh, yes. If people have a change in their marital or family status after they submit their entries – and you submit your entry quite a long time before the actual interview – and so we do – we allow people to add in family members, but we do verify that it’s a real relationship and that we need to see birth certificates. And we do interview people to ask them about their relationships, so that – because there can be fraud on that front. And we are pretty – we take a hard look at those, at families that have changed since the entry was submitted. QUESTION:
So it is allowed, but it will be verified, yes?MS. PHILLIPS:
Sure. That’s a good way to put it. QUESTION:
And family members are counted against the total number, or not? The 50,000 – like 50,000 means entries or people or -- MS. PHILLIPS:
The – I think the – you know, we send out – we submit, and as the numbers get used up, we – you know, we send out more appointment letters. So I believe the – QUESTION:
(Inaudible) the question (inaudible) principal applicant?MS. PHILLIPS:
Oh, principal applicant?QUESTION:
Or the derivative – MS. PHILLIPS:
Or the derivatives count against the 50,000. You know, actually, I think I’m going to have to get back to you on that question. QUESTION:
Oh, okay. All right. Yes.QUESTION:
Yeah, I heard about the nonprofit organization in the U.S., how the illegal or whoever who live here to apply for the visa lottery, and also, some people they used the home country address while they’re in here. And I’m just wondering what’s your opinion on it.MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, if they’re inside the country and they apply for an adjustment of status, USCIS will take a hard look at that. And if they haven’t accrued unlawful – you know, sufficient unlawful status to make them ineligible, USCIS will make the appropriate determination. But as a matter of, you know, just general policy, we don’t – we probably wouldn’t recommend that people try to pay a fee and pursue their DV applications if they’re -- if they’ve been illegally in the country for a long time. QUESTION:
Do you get the information to detain them? Like, if they apply, for example, while they are in the U.S. illegally, do you use the information on their application to pick them up and (inaudible)?MS. PHILLIPS:
No. I mean, it’s not – it’s a lottery. It’s throw their names in and pull out names, so there’s – you know, we don’t use that --QUESTION:
But I’m just wondering if that’s from the computer.MS. PHILLIPS:
Yeah, we don’t use that data for anything other than the lottery.
Do you encourage single mothers or especially women or people who are minorities and facing discrimination in their countries – do you take that into consideration when you are going through the application?MS. PHILLIPS:
It’s – as people apply, their qualifications are considered --QUESTION:
I mean –MS. PHILLIPS:
So their – you know, it’s a -- you know, people who are interested in it submit their entries. And if their entries are randomly selected, then we will interview them and --QUESTION:
No, I mean, will you give some priority to single mothers’ applications, to divorced women or to people – Christian people, say, facing discrimination in your countries? Do you prefer –MS. PHILLIPS:
No, it’s not a – it’s not like a program for refugees or for asylees or anything. It’s a pretty straight forward lottery. So we – it’s open to everybody who comes from a country that qualifies.QUESTION:
I want to clarify the – like you mentioned about 750. Is that (inaudible) per person? Is that per person or per applicant? Or if there’s a family, for example, with three members, does that mean -- MS. PHILLIPS:
It’s per person, yes.QUESTION:
So a three-member family, so it’s 700 times three?MS. PHILLIPS:
Right, right. Yeah.QUESTION:
And also on (inaudible) going like – if they qualify, they pay the fee, then they don’t qualify for the green card, they don’t get green card?MS. PHILLIPS:
Right, right. They pay the fee, have their interview. If they qualify, they get a Diversity Visa that’s good for one entry to the U.S. They’re good for – valid for six months. And they enter the U.S. and they’re just like any other permanent resident who comes in on any other kind of immigrant visa. Once they’re in the U.S. and they’ve been admitted by the Department of Homeland Security, they’re an immigrant.QUESTION:
And (inaudible) like from the Canadian (inaudible)?MS. PHILLIPS:
I – you know, it would be – if USCIS – if they have additional fees for production of the green card – I don’t think they do. There’s a fee for adjustment of status if you were to be here in the – inside the U.S., then you would have to pay an adjustment fee to USCIS in addition to a Diversity Visa fee to the Department of State.QUESTION:
Is there a condition about the age of the applicants?MS. PHILLIPS:
We have no limit on entrance. Because of the work and educational requirements --QUESTION:
Yeah, it’s –MS. PHILLIPS:
-- then we assume that we’re not going to have principal applicants --QUESTION:
Over 60 or over 65, over 70 (inaudible)?MS. PHILLIPS:
Yeah, they could submit their entries as well. We probably – I think we probably see more entries coming from younger people just because it’s – most people who are at that age are probably more settled and aren’t so interested in the Diversity Visa Lottery. But there’s nothing prohibiting them from doing so.QUESTION:
Do you have data on – for example, from Indonesia, like how many (inaudible) the lottery last year?MS. PHILLIPS:
I have – I do have some statistics that I can pass out for afterwards, and they’re on our website – www.travel.state.gov
. And we have quite a bit of information on there, country by country how many Diversity Visas were issued to people from a particular country and how many were selected in the lottery. We publish the results of each lottery every year. Right now, the DV 2010 results are up on our website. And I have copies of those here if you want to take a look at it.QUESTION:
(Inaudible) the number of how many registrations did you have last year?MS. PHILLIPS:
There were total numbers that submitted entries – there were 13 million, 600,000 – roundabout – and that was people along with their family members. There were nearly 10 million individual entries that were submitted last year. Those statistics are on the DV 2010 result page also, the specific numbers.
(Inaudible) which countries (inaudible). Because I know Georgians (inaudible). MS. PHILLIPS:
Just so I’m clear here, Russia was allowed to – beginning with DV 2010, Russians could submit entries. And they had been unable to submit for several years because of high rates of immigration from Russia. So – but they’re back – they’re back in the DV lottery and -- QUESTION:
So Russians today can –MS. PHILLIPS:
Yes, yes, and they could last year also. It hasn’t changed --QUESTION:
What about Georgia?MS. PHILLIPS:
Georgia is still on the list of countries that can submit entries. And in the instructions that have just been published on the State Department’s website, there’s a whole list of countries that – for, you know, each region you can go through and see which countries can submit. And there’s a short list of countries that can’t. There’s many more countries that are included than are excluded from the DV lottery.QUESTION:
I have one. You mentioned about no limits for age, like for example, 60 years old can apply. For that age, usually they have – they already have kids with – maybe the kids already have families. So can he or she put everybody in there – her grandchildren – or just the main – I mean -- MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, people – so you’re talking about, say, someone who’s 60 years old wins the lottery and who can they bring with them?QUESTION:
Mm-hmm. MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, it’s – you bring your – you can bring your spouse and your minor children who are under age 21 and, you know, there’s a – it’s possible that someone might – say they turn 21 after the entry was submitted for them. The officers will – the consular officer will make a calculation to determine whether or not their age was frozen at – you know, under 21. That would allow them to go with their parents. But most, you know, 60-something probably – you know, I mean, they might have children who they could – unmarried children that they could bring with them who are under 21, but --QUESTION:
So they have to be unmarried children under 21?MS. PHILLIPS:
Right, right. Yes.QUESTION:
I have a question. So can you give us an idea like if people apply tomorrow, how long does it take? Like when will someone actually get his or her visa and comes to the States?MS. PHILLIPS:
Well, for DV 2011, they would start getting – they would find out that they were selected when they get their letter, starting May to end of June, then July 1st
next year they can go online and check to see if they were selected or not. And then, starting October 1st
of 2010, they would be scheduled for a visa appointment.QUESTION:
So July 1st
is the first day –MS. PHILLIPS:
, excuse me, the beginning of the fiscal year.QUESTION:
Can I ask (inaudible) maybe the question was (inaudible) July 1st
is the first day that they can check their confirmation number, if the confirmation number matches the –MS. PHILLIPS:
And so up until right before that, we’ll have data available for DV 2010 that people can check up to that point. And then starting July 1st
, then they can check DV 2011. So it’s – we only have one set of data available at a time for the check status.QUESTION:
So after October 2 (inaudible) submit after October 2, 2009 can check after July 1st
, 2010, yes?MS. PHILLIPS:
Yes, I think so. (Laughter.) It gets --QUESTION:
Yeah. These are the lottery results for DV 2010 and those people are beginning to be interviewed. And these are the statistics for numbers of visas that were issued to people by country. So – and that’s all available on travel.state.gov. MODERATOR:
All right. Thank you so much for coming.