The U.S. State Department on Oct. 1 opened its annual visa lottery, offering 50,000 permanent resident visas to applicants from selected countries around the world.
Those interested in applying for the lottery, officially called the Diversity Visa program, can fill out a form online at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Applications will be accepted through Nov. 3. The dvlottery website is the only official website for the program and the process does not require the intervention of any intermediary, the U.S. Embassy in San José emphasized in a news release.
In recent years, hucksters offering to help people apply for a diversity visa for a fee have popped up and multiplied in many countries where the lottery is popular.
The program grants permanent resident visas, also known as Green Cards, to people from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S., among them Costa Rica.
Embassy officials in Costa Rica warned that they have no direct involvement in the program, therefore interested individuals should look for information on the referred website. Applications must be submitted electronically and print forms will not be accepted.
Each person is allowed to submit only one application. Sending more than one means immediate disqualification from the program.
The list of winners will be announced in May 2016. Participants will be able to verify the list using the confirmation number generated by the system at the end of the application process.
The Department of State will not be sending any written notifications or emails to selected visa recipients. In case someone misplaces the confirmation number, it will be impossible to verify whether that person was selected or not.
Winners of the visa lottery make up about 4 percent of all legal permanent residents admitted to the U.S. each year, according to the U.S.-based think tank American Immigration Council. Three-quarters of the winners come from Africa and Asia.
Some U.S. politicians want to scrap the visa lottery program and make those Green Cards instead available to skilled workers and/or family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. But proposals designed to do so have thus far failed to pass the U.S. Congress.