Are you one of the lucky winners of the American lottery? Congratulations! But be aware that the obstacle course has only just begun to obtain your Green Card. So, where do you start once you read “You have been selected…” on your screen? Here are all the steps to take to get the precious sesame!
My fiancee was the winner, and we weren’t married, so I was legitimately not entitled to the Green Card. Our case being specific, you can follow in orange how the procedures went for us … And as you will see, we don’t like simple things!
1 Decipher your Case Number
According to the draw’s order, each selected person is assigned a number (or Case Number ). And the first thing to do is look at it since it will condition the order of passage to the embassy. Here is an example: 2015EU000014350. This means that you have played DV2015, registered for the Europe quota, and above all… that your number is 14 350. The lower this number, the more likely you will have an interview quickly at the embassy and obtain your Green Card. (If, of course, you meet all the required conditions…).
Small reminder: Each year, the American government draws lots more than 100,000 people, while it issues only 50,000 Green Cards. This, therefore, means that more than half of those selected will never have the precious sesame in their pocket in the end, so do not rejoice too quickly. (Yes, well, avoid selling your apartment and quitting your job in euphoria!). It is not because you are selected to have a Green Card! You are also chosen for a fiscal year, which runs from September to September year on year. After this period, you lose your rights…
As far as we are concerned, we had as Case Number the 2014EU00035xxx. It wasn’t a significant number because it meant there were many people before us, and if the process was successful, it was going to take several months!
2 / Complete a file
The procedure has been “simplified” because now the document to be completed is the DS260, which is done online. However, the supporting documents to be gathered to put together the case remain the same.
Once you have your number in mind, you must complete a file and send it back to the KCC (Kentucky Consular Center), which manages visas, all accompanied by two identity photos in American format (5 x 5 cm), and the first printed notification letter (the one where you were told you were selected). It is relatively easy to do if you follow the instructions correctly. Remember to note your Case Number at the top right of each sheet (Americans are very picky!). Here are the two documents to fill out:
Form DS230 Part I and Part II
Part I of DS230 concerns your marital status, as well as information about your spouse and parents, the places where you lived, your various jobs, your diplomas, etc. Please note, you are asked for an address in the United States. Your Green Card will be sent to this address. You can enter a friend’s name no matter who it is; it just needs to be someone you trust!
Part II mainly consists of making declarations on their honor… Check NO everywhere! (Assuming you don’t plan an attack in the next few weeks!).
A copy must be completed for each family member who will immigrate with the winner.
The questions are general and ask for your address, the embassy where you wish to be interviewed (the closest to your place of residence), your professional activity, your previous employers, your studies… Nothing very complicated once again, answer exact way to questions, and above all do not invent employers or diplomas … (Because yes, in addition to being very picky, Americans do not support lies!). Anyway, they are not crazy and will ask you for the supporting documents!
To be completed only by the Green Card winner, the one was drawn. The spouse and children do not fill it out.
As soon as we were selected, my fiancee returned a file but did not mention me since we were not married. Once the ring was on our finger, we returned new forms informing the KCC of the change situation by attaching a marriage certificate. As we moved to New Caledonia, we had to change the embassy: the interview will no longer take place in Paris but Fiji! So I filled in another DS230 for myself so that we both took it into account. (He wasn’t going to leave without me anyway!).
3 / Wait until your number is current
Once you have sent your file, all you have to do is wait! But not stupidly! Every month, you have to watch the Visa Bulletin, published by the KCC, which indicates which Case Numbers will have the privilege of finally receiving an interview date at the Embassy! Newsletters can be viewed at the start of each month here. For example, it is possible to consult the February 2018 bulletin:
To read it, nothing could be simpler… You choose your region and look at the number next to it. Assuming you are in Europe, for February 2018, Case Numbers up to 19,100 will be called. A few days later, you will receive an email with a link allowing you to connect to the site on which you have viewed your results… and this is where you will see the date, time, and place of your appointment. You! Noted? Come on, now is the time to go for a little check-up at the doctor!
4 / medical appointment
Once you have your interview date, you can make a doctor’s appointment for a chest x-ray, blood test, and check-up. (Keep your vaccines up to date!). Be careful, not just any doctor; the embassy must approve him! Above all, do not open the envelope containing the results… This is a cause of refusal at the embassy…
There is no point in making an appointment with the doctor before knowing your interview date at the embassy. The results take a week maximum to be returned if all goes well.
5 / Prepare your documents for the interview
This is the most crucial step in the process … Between the mandatory papers and those I strongly recommend, here is the list:
- Two identity photos in American format
- Second notification letter containing the date of the appointment at the embassy
- Medical exam
- BAC diploma + other diplomas
- Birth certificate
- Criminal record extract (blank, of course!)
- Marriage certificate if necessary
- Documents sent in advance to KCC.
- Money to pay visa fees
- Proof of your ability to support yourself financially in the US (bank statements, etc.)
When couples get married after the selection, the American Embassy does not like it too much, and it can quickly appear suspect. It is, therefore, necessary to provide proof of your relationship, namely old photos, invoices/rents/accounts in your two names, email exchanges … in short, anything that proves your relationship!
6 / Pass the interview at the embassy
Interviews usually occur in the morning, so on D-Day, get up early and dress nicely! Well, not primarily in a suit and tie, but still, try to convey the right image of yourself; I think that’s important. To enter the embassy, you will have to go through a security gate: be careful; backpacks are not allowed inside. As you are planning, you have prepared your documents at least a week in advance to check that you are not missing anything … and everything is tidy in a pocket so as not to waste time for the consular officer.
Before the “official” interview, you will be called to a first counter where someone will check your documents and ask you to pay $ 330 per person. Then you will have to wait until a second person calls you for the interview, the real one! Please take a deep breath, relax, it will be fine! Usually, it doesn’t last more than 10/15 minutes.
At the end of the interview, you will know immediately what it is:
- You have completed your interview; the consular officer gave you a “Welcome to the USA!” It’s one of the happiest days of your life …
- You have partially succeeded. The consular agent puts you in Administrative Processing … He is missing documents, or he has a suspicion about something and wants to check … Have healthy nerves because it can take a very long time! Remember that you will need to have your Green Card before September; otherwise, you will lose your rights… So hurry and provide him with the documents he wants!
- You failed for some reason… Unfortunately, it is not possible to appeal…
Seven / Wait to receive your passport containing the temporary visa!
You have completed the interview, so well done! Now you have to wait to receive your passport at home with a temporary visa, valid for six months! So you have six months (and not a day more) to set foot on American soil and trigger the production of this little piece of green plastic, renewable every ten years! Come on; you can now think about your new life, have a good settling in the US!
Once our passports were received, we validated our Green Card when entering the United States for a vacation… in Hawaii! It was only a year later that we took the plunge and moved to the United States.
It took us almost two years of procedure between the moment we played the lottery and the moment we obtained our Green Card! We complicated every step of the way by moving halfway around the world and getting married at the last minute… so if you don’t want to suffer from a stomach ulcer now, then don’t do like us!
INFO & TIPS
# 1: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lawyer to do the legwork! If you follow the process well, I would even say it’s easy; you don’t have to be bilingual; you need a little common sense …
# 2: Throughout the process, you have to be honest! Americans hate lies and do not negotiate; it will be a direct refusal. Same if they have any suspicion towards you.
# 3: The KCC address is as follows:
US Department of State Kentucky Consular Center 3505 North Highway 25W Williamsburg, KY 40769 USA
Send your file by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt.