United States 2021 Diversity Visa Program – Step by Step
This post is produced for our readers’ convenience from United States 2021 diversity visa program information from the webpages of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. It explains the step-by-step process for the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program (also known as “green card lottery”), which is the first step in pursuing a diversity immigrant visa.
Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. A limited number of visas are available each fiscal year. The DVs are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.
Note: There is no cost to register for the DV Program.
For a list of countries/areas by region whose natives are eligible for 2021 diversity visa program, please refer to the DV Instructions.
The requirements for the DV program are established by U.S. immigration law. If you are planning to register for the DV program, be sure to look closely at the requirements for this type of visa.
1. Submit an Entry for 2021 Diversity Visa Program
All applicants – For questions about the new passport requirement for entry into the DV-2021 program, please read the Passport Entry FAQ.
There is a limited period of time during which you can register for the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program during each fiscal year. Each year, the Department of State publishes detailed instructions for entering the DV Program. These instructions include the dates of the registration period during which you will be able to enter.
All entries must be submitted electronically on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the specified registration period. No late entries or paper entries are accepted. The law allows only one entry by or for each person during each registration period. The Department of State uses sophisticated technology to detect multiple entries. If you submit more than one entry you will be disqualified. This website does not become active for submitting an entry until the date and time specified on the DV Instructions webpage.
Detailed guidance for completing the online entry form is included in the DV Instructions.
After you submit a complete entry, you will see a confirmation screen containing your name and a unique confirmation number. Print this confirmation screen for your records. It is extremely important that you retain your confirmation number. It is the only way you can check the status of your entry, and you will need it to obtain further instructions or schedule an interview for a visa if you are selected.
There is no cost to register for the DV Program. You are strongly encouraged to complete the entry form yourself, without a “Visa Consultant,” “Visa Agent,” or other facilitator who offers to help. If somebody else helps you, you should be present when your entry is prepared so that you can provide the correct answers to the questions and retain the confirmation page and your unique confirmation number.
2. Selection of Applicants
Each year, the Department of State conducts a random selection of Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) applicants, based on allocations of available visas in each region and country, from all registered entries. On or about May 7, information on the Entrant Status Check on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website is updated to inform all entrants if their online registration was selected or not. You will need to enter your confirmation number, which you obtained when you filled out your entry form, to check your entry status. If you have lost your confirmation number, you will not be able to check the status of your entry. We will not be able to resend the confirmation number to you.
Please note: The Department of State will not mail notification letters or notify selectees by email. U.S. embassies and consulates will not provide a list of selectees. Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website is the ONLY means by which the Department of State notifies selectees of their selection.
Entrants in the Diversity Visa 2020 program may check the status of their entries on the E-DV website from May 7, 2019 through September 30, 2020.
Entrants in the Diversity Visa 2021 program may check the status of their entries on the E-DV website from May 5, 2020 through September 30, 2021.
Selected entrants are encouraged to complete the online DS-260 application immediately to schedule an interview appointment at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
If your entry is selected, you will be directed to a confirmation page that will provide further instructions, including information on fees connected with immigration to the United States. Entrant Status Check is the ONLY means by which selectees are notified of their selection. The Department of State does not mail out notification letters or notify selectees by email, and U.S. Embassies and Consulates will not provide a list of selectees. Individuals who have not been selected also will be notified ONLY through Entrant Status Check. You are strongly encouraged to access Entrant Status Check yourself and not to rely on someone else to check and inform you.
See the Frequently Asked Questions at the end of the DV Instructions for further information about the selection process.
3. If You Are Selected for 2021 Diversity Visa Program
Selected entrants are encouraged to complete the online DS-260 application immediately to schedule an interview appointment at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Please note: The Department of State will not mail notification letters or notify selectees by email. U.S. embassies and consulates will not provide a list of selectees. Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website is the ONLY means by which the Department of State notifies selectees of their selection. If you receive notification through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website that you have been selected for further processing in the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, you must successfully complete the steps on the following pages before a consular interview can be scheduled to determine if you will receive a visa. You should complete these steps as soon as possible.
If you receive notification through the E-DV website that you have been selected for further processing in the DV Program, and you are physically present in the United States, you may be eligible to adjust status to obtain permanent residence through the DV Program. For more information, see Adjustment of Status.
It is important to remember that selection does not guarantee you will receive a visa. In order to receive a DV to immigrate to the United States, selectees must still meet all eligibility requirements under U.S. law.
3. Confirm Your Qualifications
The 2021 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program requires the principal DV applicant to have a high school education, or its equivalent, or two years of qualifying work experience as defined under provisions of U.S. law.
If you do not have either the required education or qualifying work experience, you are not qualified to be issued a diversity visa. (Only you, as the principal applicant, must meet this requirement. Your spouse and children do not have to meet this requirement.) You should not continue with your DV application if you do not meet the qualifying education or work experience requirements explained below. You will not be issued a visa, and any fees you pay will not be refunded.
High School Education: A high school education means successful completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completion of a 12-year course in the United States.
Work Experience: If you are qualifying with work experience, you must have two years of experience in the last five years, in an occupation which, by U.S. Department of Labor definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher.
The U.S. Department of Labor provides information on job duties, knowledge and skills, education and training, and other occupational characteristics on their website http://www.onetonline.org/. The O*Net online database groups work experience into five “job zones.” While many occupations are listed, only certain specified occupations qualify for the Diversity Visa Program.
How to Find the Qualifying Occupations on the Department of Labor Website: Qualifying DV Occupations are shown on the Department of Labor O*Net Online Database. Follow these steps, when you are in O*Net Online to find out if your occupation qualifies:
- Under “Find Occupations” select “Job Family” from the pull down;
- Then Browse by “Job Family”. (For example, select Architecture and Engineering) and click “GO”;
- Then click on the link for your specific occupation. (As an example, select Aerospace Engineers. At the bottom of this Summary Report for Aerospace Engineers, under the Job Zone section, you will find the designated Job Zone 4, SVP Range, 7.0 to < 8.0. This means using this example, Aerospace Engineering is a qualifying occupation.)
Again, you should not continue with your 2021 Diversity Visa program application if you do not meet the qualifying education or work experience requirements explained above. You will not be issued a visa, and any fees you pay will not be refunded.
4. Submit Your Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application
DV-2020 Program Applicants
The principal applicant and all family members applying for a diversity visa in the DV-2020 program must complete Form DS-260. You will need to enter your DV case number into the online DS-260 form to access and update the information about yourself and your family that you included in your DV entry.
If your family circumstances have changed after you entered the lottery, for example, if you have gotten married or had a child, you will need to add your new family members to your case. (“Family member” refers to a spouse and/or unmarried children who had not reached age 21 before you entered the lottery.) When adding family members to your case, you will need to upload a document to prove your relationship to the family member being added.
Important note: If you had a spouse or children prior to submitting your original entry, but you did not include them on your original entry form, then your case will be disqualified at the time of your 2021 Diversity Visa Program interview. Neither you nor any of your family members will receive visas. If you listed a spouse or child on your original entry who was not your spouse or child at the time of entry; neither you, nor any of your family members, will receive visas. As indicated in the prior paragraph, if your family circumstances have legitimately changed after submitting your original entry, you should add those family members and all family members’ applications will be reviewed. For more information, see the DV Instructions.
On the Sign and Submit page of the DS-260, you will need to re-enter your DV case number without the zeros (e.g. if the case number is 2020AF0000012345, enter ‘2020AF12345’). Entering the full case number with zeros will generate a validation error.
After submitting the Form DS-260 online, print the confirmation page. You must bring the confirmation page to your visa interview.
Please be aware that KCC can only tell you if your form has been processed. KCC cannot tell you whether or not you or your family members are qualified for diversity visas. Only the consular officer who interviews you can make that decision.
Contacting KCC: If you need to contact the KCC, always include your name, birthdate and case number exactly as they appear in the Entrant Status Check (ESC). Your case number should be clearly written in the upper right hand corner of your e-mail or in the subject line. KCC only receives inquiries by phone or email. Do not mail paper documents or correspondence to the Kentucky Consular Center. All paper documents or correspondence received will be destroyed. The KCC telephone number is 606-526-7500 (7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. EST). The e-mail address is KCCDV@state.gov.
5. Submit Supporting Documents
After KCC receives and processes the DS-260 application form for you and your accompanying family members, you will receive instructions for how to submit required supporting documents. Your interview will not be scheduled until you submit scanned copies of all required supporting documents, following the guidelines below. If you cannot obtain a particular document, send an explanation of why you cannot obtain the document, as an attachment in .jpeg or .pdf format, to KCCDVDocuments@state.gov, with your case number in the subject line. You will bring the original documents to your interview with the consular officer. It is strongly recommended that you begin this process early.
The applicant and each family member who will accompany the applicant to the United States will need to submit scanned copies and any required translations of original documents or certified copies of the documents listed below from an appropriate office, authority, or issuing entity in your country. You will be required to bring the original documents to your visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate, along with any translations required.
Review the information below to determine which documents you will need to obtain. KCC will send instructions explaining how to scan and email the documents and any required translations after you submit a valid DS-260 application for you and all accompanying family members. Your visa interview appointment will not be scheduled until KCC has received and reviewed all required supporting documents. You will take original documents with you to your interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Do not mail any of these documents to the Kentucky Consular Center. All paper documents or correspondence mailed to KCC will be destroyed.
Each applicant must submit a birth certificate issued by the official custodian of birth records in the country of birth, showing the date and place of birth and the parentage of the applicant, based upon the original registration of birth. Important Notice: You must submit a long form original birth certificate. Short form birth certificates will not be accepted.
The certificate must contain the:
- Person’s date of birth;
- Person’s place of birth;
- Names of both parents; and,
- Annotation by the appropriate authority indicating that it is an extract from the official records.
Unobtainable birth certificates: Some birth records may not be obtainable if, for example:
- The applicant’s birth was never officially recorded.
- The applicant’s birth records have been destroyed.
- The appropriate government authority will not issue one.
In these cases, please obtain a certified statement from the appropriate government authority stating the reason the applicant’s birth record is not available. With the certified statement the applicant must submit secondary evidence. For example:
- A baptismal certificate that contains the date and place of birth, as well as both parents’ names (providing the baptism took place shortly after birth).
- An adoption decree for an adopted child.
- An affidavit from a close relative, preferably the applicant’s mother, stating the date and place of birth, both parents names, and the mother’s maiden name. Note: An affidavit must be executed before an official authorized to take oaths or affirmations.
Court and Prison Records
Applicants who have been convicted of a crime must submit a certified copy of each court record and any prison record, regardless of the fact that he or she may have subsequently benefited from an amnesty, pardon or other act of clemency. Court records should include:
- Complete information regarding the circumstance surrounding the crime of which the applicant was convicted
- The disposition of the case, including sentence or other penalty or fine imposed.
Persons who have served in the military forces of any country must submit a copy of their military record.
Note: Military records from certain countries are unavailable. More specific information is available online on our Reciprocity by Country webpage.
Which Applicants Need to Submit a Police Certificate
Each applicant aged 16 years or older must submit all required police certificates.
What Does the Applicant Submit
The applicant must submit police certificates that meet the following guidelines. The police certificate must:
- Cover the entire period of the applicant’s residence in that area.
- Be issued by the appropriate police authority.
- Include all arrests, the reason for the arrest(s), and the disposition of each case of which there is a record.
How to obtain a police certificate
- Determine from which countries an applicant is required to obtain police certificates. The table below will assist in determining from where an applicant must obtain police certificates. Note: Present and former residents of the United States should NOT obtain any police certificates covering their residence in the United States.
- Contact the appropriate police authorities. Selecting the appropriate country from the Reciprocity by Country page will provide you with additional information on how to obtain a police certificate.
IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT POLICE CERTIFICATES:
The Reciprocity by Country pages will indicate if a country’s police authorities require the submission of a specific Police Certificate Request form. Some countries may require the submission of specific Police Certificate Request forms in order to properly request and obtain the applicable Police Certificate(s). Police certificates from certain countries are unavailable. More specific information is available online on our Reciprocity by Country webpage.
If you are 16 years of age or older, you must submit a police certificate from the following locations:
|From …||AND…||THEN the applicant needs a police certificate from…|
|the country of nationality if they resided there for more than 6 months||is 16 years old or older||the police authorities of that locality.|
|the country of current residence (if different from nationality) if they resided there for more than 6 months||was 16 years or older at that time||the police authorities of that locality.|
|any previous country or countries of residence if residing there for more than 12 months||was 16 years or older at that time||the police authorities of that locality.|
|any country where arrested for any reason, regardless of how long they lived there||was any age at that time||the police authorities from place of arrest.|
Note: Present and former residents of the United States do NOT need to submit any U.S. police certificates.
Important: Police certificates expire after one year, unless the certificate was issued from your country of previous residence and you have not returned there since the police certificate was issued. If at the time of your interview the following three items are all true, you must bring a new police certificate to your visa interview:
- You are more than 16 years old;
- The police certificate was obtained more than one year ago; and
- You still live in the country that issued the certificate.
For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain a police certificate, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.
Unobtainable police certificates
If your police certificate is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit one. If you cannot obtain a police certificate for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.
Photocopy of Valid Passport Biographic Data Page
You and each family member immigrating with you must submit a photocopy of the biographic data page of a currently valid passport. The biographic data page is the page with your photograph, name, date, and place of birth.
- Send a photocopy of your biographic data page to KCC.
- Bring your original passport plus one photocopy of the biographic data page to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Important: Do not send your original passport to KCC. You need this document to travel.
Additional Embassy or Consulate Instructions
Civil and personal documents may differ from country to country, depending on availability. There may be either additional instructions for obtaining civil documents in a specific country or additional documents required, depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Select the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn what additional requirements there are, if any. Please note that some of the information included in these instructions may apply to immigrant visa classifications other than diversity visas. If you have questions about the country-specific information included here, please contact the embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa.
Please visit the List of U.S. Embassies and Consulates to review Embassy/Consulate instructions provided by your city.
6. 2021 Diversity Visa Program – the Interview
All 2021 Diversity Visa Program applicants – Read the below information carefully. If you do not bring all required documents to your appointment, your case will be delayed. You may need to return to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at another date and your visa may be delayed or denied.
You should prepare for your interview thoroughly and carefully. Failure to be fully prepared for your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can result in delay or denial of your visa application.
After you have been notified of your scheduled 2021 Diversity Visa Program interview, you will need to take the following important steps in advance of the interview date:
1. Carefully Review your scheduling information in the Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website, noting the date, time, and location of your immigrant visa interview.
2. Review U.S. Embassy or Consulate Interview Instructions
There may be additional instructions provided by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be applying and be interviewed, so please review those instructions carefully. To see this information, select below the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be interviewed. Please note that some of the information included in these instructions may apply to immigrant visa classifications other than diversity visas. If you have questions about the country-specific information included here, please contact the embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa.
Please visit the List of U.S. Embassies and Consulates to review Embassy/Consulate instructions.
3. Schedule and Complete a Medical Examination
You (and each family member applying for a visa with you) are required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized physician in the country where you will be interviewed. You must complete your medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your scheduled visa interview date. When your medical exam is completed, if you are given a medical exam envelope, you must bring it sealed (not opened) to your visa interview. Some physicians will send the medical exam results directly to the embassy or consulate.
A list of authorized physicians for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply is provided in the dropdown list below. You must contact a physician and schedule your medical appointment. The embassy or consulate will not do this for you. Explain that the examination is for an immigrant visa application and give the physician the date of the interview appointment. The physician will tell you the cost of the examination and tests.
Please note that some of the information included in these instructions may apply to immigrant visa classifications other than diversity visas. If you have questions about the country-specific information included here, please contact the embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa.
Please visit the List of U.S. Embassies and Consulates to review Embassy/Consulate instructions.
4. Gather Photographs and All Remaining Required Documents
Each DV applicant will need to bring two (2) identical photos to the interview. Please review the detailed information about photo requirements to ensure that your photos will be acceptable.
Required Documentation for 2021 Diversity Visa Program Interview
Each applicant will be required to present the following:
- Appointment information printed from the Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website.
- DS-260 confirmation page You can print this from the Consular Electronic Application Center any time after you complete your DS-260 application.
- Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the U.S. for you and each family member applying for a visa.
- Original documents or certified copies of civil documents submitted to KCC. Bring one photocopy of any document that you did not submit to KCC as part of the interview qualification process. You should be prepared to present:
Evidence of Required DV Qualifying Education or Work Experience
The principal diversity visa applicant must have a high school education, or its equivalent, OR two years of qualifying work experience in the last five years.
Education: Submit to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your interview, a certificate of completion equivalent to a U.S. diploma, school transcripts, or other evidence issued by the person or organization responsible for maintaining records, which specifies the completed course of study. The diversity visa selectee must have completed a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education in the U.S. or a comparable course of study in another country, sufficient in itself to qualify a student to apply for college admission. The following are not acceptable:
- Equivalency certificates (such as the G.E.D.) are not acceptable.
- Vocational degrees that are not considered a basis for further academic study will not be considered equivalent to U.S. high school education.
Work Experience: Submit documentation to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your interview demonstrating that you have two years of qualifying work experience in the last five years immediately prior to application. Qualifying work experience must be in an occupation that, by U.S. Department of Labor O*Net Online Database definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher. (See the section on Confirm Your Qualifications for information about using O*Net Online.)
Applicants who have previously been deported or removed at government expense from the United States must obtain Form I-212, Permission to Reapply after Deportation, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and follow the instructions included on that form.
Married applicants must obtain an original marriage certificate, or a certified copy, bearing the appropriate seal or stamp of the issuing authority.
Note: Marriage certificates from certain countries are unavailable. More specific information is available online on our Reciprocity by Country webpage.
Marriage Termination Documentation
Applicants who have been previously married must submit evidence of the termination of EACH prior marriage. Evidence submitted to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate must be in the form of original documents issued by a competent authority, or certified copies bearing the appropriate seal or stamp of the issuing authority, such as:
- Final divorce decree
- Death certificate
- Annulment papers
For adopted children, the adoptive parent must provide:
- A certified copy of the adoption decree;
- The legal custody decree, if custody occurred before the adoption;
- A statement showing dates and places where child resided with the parents; and
- If the child was adopted while aged 16 or 17 years, evidence that the child was adopted together with, or subsequent to the adoption of, a natural sibling under age 16 by the same adoptive parent(s).
5. Review Additional Information
Visit the U.S. embassy or consulate website where you will be interviewed for any additional information.
Before the interview, each applicant must pay the Diversity Visa Lottery fee. For DV-2020 and DV-2019 applicants the fee is $330 per person. This fee is nonrefundable, whether a visa is issued or not. Learn more about Fees.
Fee payment procedures vary between different U.S. Embassies and Consulates. At most locations, you should make arrangements to pay your fees before your interview date and time by following the instructions of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be interviewed. A few U.S. Embassies and Consulates collect fees in the consular section at the time of your interview. Be sure you have looked at the specific instructions for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will be interviewed so that you can follow the appropriate procedures.
Other fees may apply to other parts of the process, such as medical exam fees, or local government fees to obtain certified copies of records.
7. Applicant Interview
Prior to your 2021 Diversity Visa Program interview, ensure you have followed the U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview preparation instructions. On the scheduled date and time of your interview appointment, go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A consular officer will interview you (and accompanying family member beneficiaries) and determine whether or not you can receive an immigrant visa. As part of the interview process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken.
Who Must Attend the Interview?
You, your spouse, and any qualified unmarried children immigrating with you must participate in your 2021 Diversity Visa Program interview. If your spouse and/or qualified unmarried children will immigrate at a later date and travel separately from you, they are not required to participate in your interview. They will be scheduled for a separate interview appointment. You should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly to arrange separate interviews, if needed.
What to Bring to the 2021 Diversity Visa Program Interview
Appointment Letter – Your appointment information from the Entrant Status Check on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website.
DS-260 Confirmation Page – You can print this from the Consular Electronic Application Center any time after you complete your DS-260 application.
Passport – For each applicant, an unexpired passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States
Photographs – Two identical color photographs for each applicant. Photos must meet the standards explained in the Photograph Requirements.
Medical Exam Results – If the panel physician gave you sealed envelopes containing each applicant’s medical examination results, please bring those unopened envelopes. Some physicians send the medical examination results directly to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For more information, review Prepare for the Interview.
Original and Supporting Documents – Bring original documents or certified copies of all documents you submitted to KCC for you and each family member applying for a visa (with the exception of your passport). You may also be required to provide evidence of work and education requirements, marriage certificates, marriage termination documentation, and custody documentation. If you have a new document that you did not submit to KCC, bring both the original and one photocopy. Your original documents will be returned to you when the interview has been completed. The photocopies will be kept. For more information, review Prepare Your Supporting Documents.
English Translations – If documents require English translation, you must obtain certified translations and present them on the day of your interview. For more information, review Prepare Your Supporting Documents.
Visa Fees – If you did not pay your visa fees prior to your interview, you will need to pay them before speaking with a consular officer. For more information, review Prepare for the Interview.
You should not make permanent financial commitments, such as selling your house, car or property, resigning from your job or making non-refundable flight or other travel arrangements until you have received your immigrant visa.
I need to reschedule my appointment – If you cannot appear at your scheduled interview, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. Under U.S. law, all diversity visas for a fiscal year must be issued prior to September 30. Available visas for some countries and regions may be used up prior to that date. If you delay your appointment, you may lose your opportunity to immigrate on the basis of your DV application.
I would like my spouse and/or children to follow me to the United States after I immigrate. Can they do that? – Yes, but remember that all diversity visas for a fiscal year must be issued by September 30. Available visas for some countries and regions may be used up prior to that date. If your spouse and children delay obtaining their visas, they may lose their opportunity to immigrate on the basis of their DV applications. If this happens, you will need to file a petition to bring your family to the United States at a later date. If they do not obtain diversity visas prior to September 30, your spouse and/or children may have to wait several years to join you.
Can my spouse or children receive diversity visas, even if they were not on my original entry? – If you were married, or your child was born or adopted after you submitted your entry to the DV program, you can add them to your case and they may be eligible to receive diversity visas.
If you were married or had children prior to entering the DV program, and you failed to include your family members on your original entry, your case will be disqualified. Neither you nor your family members will receive visas. Your fees will not be refunded.
My child will turn 21 years old soon – Children generally must be unmarried and under age 21 to qualify as derivative applicants. Also, they generally must use their visas to enter the United States while still under age 21.
If you have a child who will be turning 21 soon, you should immediately contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your interview is scheduled. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will determine whether an earlier appointment is needed. If your child no longer qualifies to immigrate with you based on age, then a separate petition must be filed for the child after you immigrate.There may be a significant delay before your child becomes qualified for a visa.
8. After the Interview
At the end of your immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the consular officer will inform you whether your visa application is approved or denied.
Visa approval – When approved, you will be informed how and when your passport and visa will be returned to you.
Visa denial – If denied, you will be informed why you are ineligible to receive a visa. There is additional information about visa denials at the bottom of this page, and detailed information is available on the Denials webpage.
Note: Some refused visa applications may require further administrative processing. When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case.
Visa Approval – When You Receive Your Visa
Passport with Visa – Your diversity visa will be placed on a page in your passport. Please review the printed information right away to make sure there are no errors. If there are any spelling errors, contact the embassy or consulate promptly.
Sealed Immigrant Packet – You will also receive a sealed packet containing documents that you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a port-of-entry (often an airport) upon your arrival in the United States. You must not open the sealed packet.
When You Should Travel – You must arrive and apply for admission in the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. A diversity visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for less than six months.
USCIS Immigrant Fee – You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, returning residents (SB-1s), and those issued K visas are exempt from this fee. Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information. Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.
Vaccination Records – Children are required to have certain vaccinations before they can enroll in school in the United States. Therefore, it is recommended that your child have complete vaccination records before immigrating. Learn about vaccination requirements by state on the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website under State Vaccination Requirements.
X-rays – You must hand-carry your X-rays with you, not pack them in your luggage.
Entering the United States
When traveling to the United States, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter before or at the same time as family members with visas. With your diversity visa (before it expires), and your sealed packet, you will travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (often an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to grant or deny admission. Learn about admission and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel.
If you are admitted, you will enter as a Lawful Permanent Resident, also called a green card holder, and will be permitted to work and live permanently in the United States.
When You are a Permanent Resident – Coming to the United States to live permanently, you will want to learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. See Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to review information on the USCIS website about living in the United States.
Social Security Number – To learn about the U.S. Social Security Administration benefits available to Legal Permanent Residents, and how to apply for a social security number card, visit the Social Security Administration website.
About Visa Denials
- In some situations the consular officer does not have sufficient information needed to process your application to conclusion, or you may be missing some supporting documentation. The consular officer will inform you if information or documents are missing and how to provide it.
- As noted above, some applications may require additional administrative processing after the interview before the application can be processed to conclusion. The consular officer will inform you if additional administrative processing is necessary.
- Based on U.S. law, not everyone who applies is qualified or eligible for a visa to come to the United States. Under U.S. law, many factors could make an applicant ineligible to receive a visa. See Ineligibilities for U.S. Visas. In some instances, the law might allow you to apply for a waiver for the ineligibility. If you are able to apply for such a waiver, the consular officer will advise you on the steps to take.