Ask the US Consul

In Ask the Consul, our popular monthly column, conducted in association with the US Embassy in Colombo, readers are invited to send in their queries about obtaining US visas which are answered direct by the US Consul as soon as possible. So if you have a knotty problem write in to Ask the Consul, No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2 or email : features@sundaytimes.

This month and next month will be devoted to answering questions on the Diversity Visa Lottery Programme, popularly known as the Green Card Lottery. Each year the Diversity Visa Lottery offers 50,000 people the opportunity to legally migrate to the United States to live and work. This year the open period runs from October 2 - November 30. Please visit the embassy's website for details on registering, Registration is free!

Dear Consul, a friend of mine won the Green Card Lottery last year, but his visa was refused. How can this be? I thought that if you won the Lottery you were guaranteed a visa? – Perera

A: To receive a Diversity visa, in addition to being selected for the Lottery, a person must also meet either an educational or a work experience requirement. To qualify based on educational qualifications, you must have the equivalent of an American high school education, which in Sri Lankan terms is defined as passing six GCE O-level subjects, including maths and Tamil or Sinhala.

To qualify based on work experience (which is quite difficult) you must have a job which meets certain strictly defined criteria. To check if your work experience qualifies, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net OnLine database. It can be found at Jobs which are in Job Zone 4 or higher qualify. If a person applies for the lottery and is selected, but does not meet one of the qualifications for the visa, he will not be able to receive a Diversity Visa. There are no exceptions to this. So, if you don't qualify for the DV lottery, please do not enter.

Dear Consul,
I received an email from someone at the U.S. State Department telling me that I won the DV Lottery. I was surprised because I never applied for the Lottery. The email said that I needed to send money to an address in America and then I would be issued a visa. Is this true? – M.R.

A: No, someone is trying to trick you. Only people who register for the Diversity Visa Lottery are eligible to be selected. In addition, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Colombo only correspond with entrants via postal mail. You would NEVER be notified by telephone or email that you won the Green Card Lottery.

If you receive an email saying that you won, you can be confident that it is not real. Also, the only time a fee is paid is at the time of the visa interview at the Embassy. The U.S. Government NEVER asks people to send money through the mail or to wire money.

Dear Consul, what kind of assistance is available to winners of the Green Card Lottery who move to the USA? – G.A.M. Fernando

A: Applicants who receive a diversity visa are not provided any type of assistance. They are on their own. They will need to decide where to live. They will need to find housing and a job. The U.S. Government only provides a visa which gives them the opportunity to live and work in America. Success depends on making use of the opportunity.

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