how do I get one?

Between October 1 and November 1, the US State Department throws open a website where anyone of eligible nationality can apply. There’s a web form to fill out with your basic information, contact details, parental heritage (as questionable as it may be) and whatnot. Once you submit, you’re given a confirmation number and are told to check back in six months’ time. So, y’know, just around the corner.

After that, you can basically set an alarm for yourself for May 1 at 12:00pm ET. In my case, this was 2:00am on a Thursday Brisbane time. You go back to the same website you applied at, punch in your confirmation number and essentially get a yes or no answer. Whether or not you get selected is entirely by chance – that’s the lottery part of the deal.

It’s also entirely your responsibility to check your entry; you don’t get an email or a letter in the post saying you’ve been selected for further processing. If you get the green light to further your case, but you forget or neglect to check your number after May 1, then stiff shit. You miss out. That’s not to say though that you’re not allowed to proceed if you remember in September and check then to find out you’re through. The Department of State pulls way more numbers out of the hat than there are available green cards, to accommodate for people who forget to check, change their mind or decide not to go through with it for whatever reason. In the 2014 lottery (my year), there were 125,000 selectees for 50,000 visas. The odds aren’t bad once you get through to the second round.

What’s next?

In any case, after you see that official letterhead on your computer screen telling you you’ve been “randomly selected for further processing in the Diversity Immigrant Visa program”, the real fun begins. You’re assigned a case number which indicates your region and year of entry. The lower your case number (within your region), the earlier you get to interview for a green card and the better chance you have of getting a visa. Each month the State Department publishes a case number cut-off for two months in advance, so if your number falls below that cut-off then you’ll shortly be notified about your interview date.

But don’t get too excited just yet. There’s a stack of paperwork for you to fill out, all of which can be found on the US State Department website. You’ve got the DSP-122 and the DS-0230 (parts I and II), which require a stack of information. You also need US-sized passport photos (2in by 2in) and a copy of the acceptance letter that gave you the good news in the first place. You whack them all into an Express Post envelope (so you can track it) and chuck it in the mail to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), which is where all these applications are processed.

Then the waiting begins. Because KCC processes so many friggin’ applications, you might not get confirmation that they’ve received your extremely important, unique, special post pack. Emailing them might elicit a response, it might not. Calling them is generally the best bet, but of course that’s an international phone call so buyer beware.

For God’s sake, get on with it

Alright, alright. Tough crowd. Anyway, the meticulously filled-out forms are only half of the battle. You’ve still got to meet all the requirements, provide plenty of paperwork as evidence that you do meet them, and go through an interview at your nearest US consulate to back all that up.

Interviews run from October to September at US consulates around the world.  My “local” was in Sydney, which meant having to fly there for the interview. No biggie. Since I had a low case number (304 out of all Oceania), I was in line for an early interview. I just missed the cut-off for October (300) so I knew I’d be on for November. Others with higher numbers weren’t so lucky. While you wait, it’s helpful to start collecting your evidence documentation. Everyone’s base documents are the same – passport, birth certificate, proof of high school education – but depending on your age, marital status, military careers, blah blah blah, you might need extra stuff. The full list is here. Basically though you just need a minimum grade 12 education, not be a complete piece of shit criminal and be physically (and mentally, I’m assuming) healthy.

I was a pretty simple case: legally single, never changed a name, no kids, no prison time, no military service, no wuckin’ furries mate! All I took was my birth certificate, passport, high school and university transcripts, my medical examination results and police record checks.

The two latter pieces of evidence are where the cost starts coming into it. One must undergo blood tests for immunization records, chest X-rays for tuberculosis and a full turn-your-head-and-cough examination. Mine cost me $465, and another $15 on top because I didn’t have the latest flu vaccination. There are only a few doctors in Australia authorized to do the visa medicals (look here for the list); you can’t just rock up at your GP and ask for the test, so if you live in a city not staffed by one of those medicos, you’ll have to fly to one. See what I mean about costs adding up? After a few days you’ll receive a sealed envelope of results and a big old chest X-ray that you’ll need when you have your interview.

The other expensive one is the national police check. You can do this at any police station for a fee. There’s some conjecture as to whether you need to go the whole hog and do a fingerprint check or not, but I figured I’d rather have too much information than not enough. Of course, the fingerprint option is considerably more expensive ($180 in Queensland). On top of that, you need a police check for everywhere you’ve lived for longer than six months since you turned 16. For me that wasn’t an issue but I know a lot of people who’ve lived in a heap of states and countries. That ain’t cheap.

The medical and police checks also have expiry dates, so the consulates tell you not to organize them until you’ve got your interview scheduled so they don’t run out of validity. After all that expense, all you can do is sit back and wait for your case number to fit under the cut-off…

35 thoughts on “how do I get one?

  1. Hey Adrian,

    I’m glad I came across your blog, it has been a wealth of information in comparison to the conflicting and unclear information I am getting from Forums. I’m 27 and also a lucky unencumbered selectee from Brisbane. Hopefully my fate pans out as well as yours did. But for the bits which aren’t up to fate… I am already starting to research what is required of me. This year will be a little different as the application is going to be digital, but the documents remain demanding as ever. I noticed you wrote here that you have to get police checks for every place you lived from the age of 16. Being a nomad from a young age this made my dinner repeat on me a little. However I’ve just checked the Visa website and put my Chicken to rest after reading;

    “Police certificates are required for each visa applicant aged 16 years and older. Applicants are required to apply for a Police certificate ensuring that the certificate addresses all known names and/or aliases.”

    Which I interpret as not having to pay 1 million dollars for a paper trail record stating my squeaky clean if not extensive trail across the East Coast of Australia. Music to my ears! I thought I’d save the repetition of dinners across Australia who might have had the good luck of a) being a GC2015 selectee and b) coming across your blog.

    1. I hate to cause your indigestion to resurface, Brooklin, but you might be relieved prematurely.

      According to the State Department list of supporting documentation (scroll down, expand Police Records, see table, you need a police certificate for each locality you lived in for more than six months, even in your country of nationality, from the age of 16 onwards.

      “IF the applicant lived in a different part of their country of nationality for more than 6 months AND was 16 years or older at that time, THEN the applicant needs a police certificate from the police authorities of that locality.”

      Sorry pal.

  2. I am not sure if I am providing anything helpful or not, but I have worked in aged care where police checks are now mandatory. In that case we got federal checks, which covered all states where you have lived. I am wondering that given we have slightly different policing system here to the USA that one of those would cover the requirements.

    1. The visa documentation explicitly states that you need a check from every jurisdiction you lived in, and that a federal police check isn’t appropriate. Beats me why.

  3. I stand corrected!

    I am waiting to hear back from the consulate in regards to what they define as ‘locality’. My hopes are that I will only require one certificate per state. Surely?

    I’ll keep you posted in case anyone else is wondering too.

    Thanks for your help guys.

  4. From what I understand, you’ll only need one per state because it’s the state-based departments who run the checks. You don’t have to go down to every suburban cop shop or anything.

  5. “Locality means the area that you lived in. You may apply for a fingerprint based Australian police certificate within the state you reside in. A fingerprint based search will cover a search for the whole of Australia.” – Horses Mouth.

    If anyone was wondering 🙂

  6. Hi Crawf, great blog! Thanks a lot.

    I’ve been selected for DV2015 (OC000012XX) and am getting myself in a tizz trying to work out the best way forward, I’m hoping you can shed some light. Essentially I’m living and working in NY on an E3 but have had it recommended to me that I should go home for the interview rather than change status. Is this the right call do you think?

    Also as I’m in 1200’s I figure it’ll be a good while until I get an interview (maybe July 2015?), but do I need to fill in the online DS-260 immediately (ie, now), or can it wait until later in the year (say Sept), after I’ve come back from some trips to Europe etc.

    Thanks again and all the best for the book. Cheers mate, James

    1. Hey James, thanks for writing (and reading). I was under the impression that an E3 is, by its very nature, a visa on which you can’t adjust your status to permanent resident, and as such you HAVE to go home/leave the country to change statuses. I don’t know whether you’ve found the Immigration Forums but there’s a few folks over there more knowledgeable than I when it comes to adjustment of status (AOS) cases. The consulate in New York might be able to help you too…although I wouldn’t hold your breath.

      As for when to fill out your “paper”work (lucky bastard, it wasn’t online for us last year), I’m a control freak so I’d probably get it all done ASAP rather than wait, but that’s just me. There’s no reason why you can’t wait, but I figured that the larger window of time I gave KCC to process my stuff, the longer I had to correct or revisit anything they needed me to look at in my application.

  7. Adrian, Great points especially regarding the E3, Thanks for taking the time to reply. I have been checking out the immigration forums but for some reason it won’t let me post. Will keep at the research. Cheers, James

    1. The forums have had some server and redesign nightmares over the past month and it’s been an utter shitter. A lot of Aussies have jumped ship to another board but Immigration Forums still has a ton of good information. If you manage to sign up and post, the user Britsimon is something of an expert on AOS so he’d be the man to talk to. There are a few Aussie DV winner threads there too, corresponding to each year.

    1. I honestly can’t say; DV-260 wasn’t a part of my green card process. They’ve changed it to all-online submissions this year. In any case they never notified me when they’d received or processed my forms. I had to call to make sure they got it all, and it takes them several weeks to process upon receipt.

      You need to be patient. That’s the name of this game.

  8. So basically after filling in the forms you only hear back from KCC as to when your interview date is? And then once you know that you can go ahead and get your medicals, police check etc. done?

    1. Basically, yeah. You can certainly call them to check on the progress of your application, but bear in mind that they process thousands upon thousands of all different sorts of visa applications, so it can take a number of weeks for you to be processed at all.

      And bear in mind that for DV2015 (and beyond, I assume), all of the forms are submitted online, from what I can gather. So my treasure trove of information here is somewhat dated, already. Ugh. In any case, don’t make any moves to get medicals/police checks/whatever done until you have your interview date.

      It wouldn’t hurt for you to gather your birth certificate/high school diploma and preempt the medical by gathering your immunization records etc first, and making sure you’re up to date on the shots you’ll need.

  9. Hi Adrian, Very informative writing! I got through the next stage of the lottery, but didn’t fill my online forms until a couple weeks later once my living address in the states was confirmed. Therefore my case no. is in the 900s. The November cut off is 500. Does this mean I may miss out on an interview completely or just delay the interview time until next year?

    1. Kieran, deep breaths my friend. You have a FANTASTIC case number. A 900 is not high at all. If November’s cutoff is 500, you’ll probably be up in February or March. It doesn’t matter when you submitted your forms – you’ve got your case number and that’s that. Congratulations!

  10. Hi, my confirmation number is 794xx for 2015 from africa, which is above the 50000 visa available, so wondering if I will get the chance to have a green card. What should I do? Wait until the end and see if my number is selected? Apply again for the current lottery? Great thanks for your advise

    1. The confirmation number has nothing to do with the number of visas available. Not every single one of the 125,000 (or whatever) people who got through the first stage will submit their paperwork or even check their submission. They select more people than they have visas for that reason. I don’t know how the cutoffs work for Africa but it can never hurt to enter again just in case.

  11. Hi Adrian!

    Do you have any ideas when KCC will process and send the interview date.
    Assume I send the visa application online today.

    1. Hey Jon, your interview date is based solely on your case number and the respective monthly cut-offs as dictated by the Visa Bulletin. If you have a low one – say, under 250 – you’ll be in line for an October interview, which means you’ll get an email about the appointment in August.

      If your case number is 1,000, you might not hear about your interview until March or April, depending on how the cut-offs shake out.

    1. What country are you in, Jon? My advice was written under the assumption that you’re in Oceania, which gives out case numbers in a very low range. Since you’re 6,000, I’m guessing you’re in Asia or Africa somewhere?

      If that’s the case, then you’ll need to look up past years’ Visa Bulletins for interview cut-offs to see where 6,000 fits. I don’t know the ranges for other regions, so 6,000 might be soon or it might be a ways off.

    1. As I said, you’ll have to investigate interview cutoffs from the past few years for Asia. I don’t know how the numbers compare in that region simply because I never had to look. Good luck!

  12. I have in the dv 2016 e-dv status omb control number and fill the text box then fill the ditale enformation including the photo directe using camera then the network stop to advice alote of email ask my question to the kcc I haven’t information plc advise me with lock of information I loste the big chance I am sure u are solve my stress if u need my details information I will give u

  13. When I check my dv resulte in e-dv the resulte displayed omb control number after that the states display not selected result what is my finale resulte advise me

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