Overview

The following sections describe the process I went through. It is meant only to give you an idea of what to expect. Yours will be different.

Round 1

The first round is simple and will cost you no money. It has no prerequisites and can be started once every year. This round consists only of an online application for the diversity visa (see Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery). You will need to provide several information about yourself and a digital photograph (see Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Instructions). Every family member may apply for a DV. I.e. if you and your spouse apply for the visa and only one of you wins, the other will still be issued a visa.

Note that the online application can be completed by anyone who has access to the Internet and a digital camera. It it not necessary to pay a company.

We had to submit it between October and November 2006. My fiancee and I applied individually for the diversity visa. If either one of us would win, we would marry for the other to get a visa, too.

In 2006 several million people took part in the lottery from all over the world. You can find some statistics at this site: 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery Registrations.

Round 2

The second round starts if/when you have won a list position for the diversity visa. This is how it works: Once round 1 is completed 100,000 persons will be selected. Only 50,000 will win a diversity visa. Twice as much are selected because some do not meet all requirements (e.g. education or work experiences) or are disqualified because they cheated. Therefore: Do not cheat! Everybody who is among the 100,000 selected will receive a letter with further instructions, everybody else will receive nothing!

If you receive a letter it will contain your list position. This list position is crucial. All applications are processed according to this list. This means lower numbers (e.g. 10,017) will be processed before higher list numbers (e.g. 20,042). Additionally, lists exist for each region/continent.

After you received your letter, you will have to send in several documents and forms regarding your education, family, former visits to the U.S., and so on. These documents will be checked and several background checks regarding yourself are conducted. If everything is alright, the documents will be send to the embassy/consulate which is responsible for handling the DV applications of your country.

In mid of April 2007 I received a letter from Kentucky. I was on the list for Europe with a position between 10,000 and 12,000. My fiancee did not receive any notification. This led to the quick decision to marry. We were together for already six years, so this marriage was not really a surprise, but rather expected.

I was asked to send in several documents and forms regarding my education, former visits to the U.S., and family. Once we were married in July 2007 we also sent in the documents for my wife's application.

Round 3

Round 3 starts when all checks regarding yourself, spouse and children that apply for the diversity visa are completed. From now on, the the embassy/consulate which is responsible for handling the DV applications of your country will be in charge of your application. All further communication regarding your application will be handled by them.

Once the checks are completed, you will receive an letter with an embassy/consulate appointment. At this appointment, you are required to pay the DV fee, provide further documents (e.g. bring the original birth certificate), have a personal interview with an US officer and pass a medical exam. The total sum will be around $900 per person who will receive a visa. This will differ from case to case.

At the end of round 3 you will hold a temporary immigrant visa. This visa will expire after half a year. Also, the forms and documents you have sent in will be wrapped in a sealed envelope and send to you. You must not open this sealed envelope. It will be opened in round 4 by an immigration officer in the U.S. Also you must keep the x-ray of your thorax. These you also have to provide to the immigration officer.

We received our invitation for the visa interview in October 2007 which was scheduled for December 2007. These dates were way earlier than we expected from the figures we had from the year before. At the consulate we had to pay $750 per person and additional 125EURO for the medical exam (also per person). A week after the consulate appointment we received our temporary visa.

Round 4

Round 4 will start once you received the temporary diversity visa. You have to enter 6 months the United States. At your first visit, a last interview will be conducted by an immigration officer. The interview will take place at the border at which you enter the U.S. You have to bring the sealed envelope and the x-ray you received in round 3. At this final interview, it will be decided whether you are granted an immigrant visa or not.

If everything works out, you will receive your immigrant visa (the green card). Please note that the visa is send to you by mail to the U.S. postal address you have provided in round 3. This process may take up to 10 months.

As far as I can tell, any applicant can be kicked out of the visa process at any time if he does not fulfill the requirements.

Costs

To give you an idea what costs are involved in an DV application I have listed the costs per person per round.
Round Item Expenses
1 - 0EUR
total costs round 1 0EUR
2 copies 2EUR
letter to Kentucky 15EUR
total costs round 2 ~ 17EUR
3 copies 1EUR
trip to Frankfurt 100EUR
consulate fee 750$
medical exam 125EUR
photographs 10EUR
police record 0EUR
total costs round 3 ~ 835EUR
4 trip to New York 300EUR
total costs round 4 ~ 300EUR
TOTAL COSTS OF ALL ROUNDS ~ 1150EUR
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