Bar News - October 17, 2003
Destination America: U.S. Remains Great Hope for Many Worldwide
By: George Bruno
WHILE MANY AMERICANS feel that their country has changed forever since Sept. 11, 2001, one enduring fact has not changed: America remains the great hope for millions of people around the globe. For many foreign nationals dreaming of pursuing a new life in the U.S., their best chance is the U.S. State Department's annual diversity visa lottery.
Our "melting pot" society is one of our country's great strengths and the diversity visa lottery is the best, and sometimes the only, chance for many people to obtain a U.S. visa. The congressionally mandated lottery known as DV-2005, authorized under the terms of Sec. 203 (c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Pub.L. 101-649), selects approximately 55,000 winners at random each year.
Attorneys should advise clients that the lottery is limited to nationals from a defined list of countries announced in advance by the State Department and applications can be submitted only during a relatively short 60-day window beginning November 1. Persons abroad as well as those temporarily in the U.S. qualify.
The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration. Within each region, no one country may receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.
Not eligible are Canada, mainland China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, So. Korea, U.K. (except N. Ireland) and Vietnam.
Registrations for the upcoming diversity lottery must be submitted between Nov. 1 and Dec. 30, 2003, and, starting this year, diversity lottery registrations can be submitted only online, via a new U.S. government Web site.
Those wishing to know if they qualify and to register must not only have access to the Internet, but must also submit passport-style digital photographs of themselves that conform to strict format requirements. Any deviation from the format, or submission outside the application period, will result in immediate disqualification. Further, if an individual makes more than one application, the system will automatically eliminate all of them, disqualifying the applicant.
Many law firms engaged in immigration law practice provide a complete package of services for Diversity 2005 registration, including expert preparation of digital photographs.
For more information on the diversity lottery, deadlines, eligibility and requirements for registration, attorneys and interested persons may consult http://travel.state.gov/dv2005.html.
George Bruno is a Manchester attorney and served as U.S. ambassador to Belize during the Clinton administration.