During the whole month of February and the first week
of March the Immigration and Naturalization Service will be receiving applications
for those willing to try their luck at the Visa Lottery. There will be
2,476 spots for all of South America, including Brazil.
By Edgardo Quintanilla
According to the US Department of State, for the fourth year in a row,
natives of Brazil who are in the US or anywhere else in the world will
have a chance in 1997 to try their luck with the Visa Lottery.
The winner of the Visa Lottery gets a chance to become a US lawful permanent
resident along with his or her spouse and unmarried children under 21 years
of age. The Lottery application must be received by the National Visa Center
beginning at noon on February 3, 1997, and ending at noon on March 5, 1997.
There is no advantage to apply early or late during the processing period.
I. Native of a Qualifying Country
To participate in the Visa Lottery a participant must first be a native
of a qualifying country. Brazilians will basically compete for 2,476 Lottery
visas that are allotted to South America. The natives of the following
countries cannot participate in the Lottery, unless they are legally married
to a native of a country which does qualify for the Lottery: Canada, Colombia,
the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Jamaica, Mexico, the People’s
Republic of China, the Philippines, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan, the United
Kingdom, and Vietnam.
II. High School Education or Equivalency
Every Lottery applicant must have a High School education or its equivalent
or, within the past five years, have two years of experience in an occupation
that requires two years of training or experience.
III. No Special Applications or Fees to Apply
The Lottery Visa application does not require any special forms or any
fee for processing of the application. A Lottery applicant may wish, however,
to retain the services of an attorney for processing of the Lottery Visa.
The following information must be typed or printed on a plain sheet of
paper in order to participate in the Lottery Visa:
1. applicant’s full name (last name underlined, first name, middle name);
2. applicant’s date and place of birth;
3. name, date and place of birth of the applicant’s spouse and unmarried
children under 21 years of age, if any;
4. applicant’s mailing address and, if applicable, his or her telephone
number including area code;
5. applicant’s native country, if different from the country of birth,
and when applicant comes from a country that does not qualify for the Lottery
but is married to a native who comes from a country that does qualify for
the Lottery, then note the native country to which the applicant will be
6. applicant’s true signature, preferably in black ink;
7. a recent 1 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch (3.75 cm by 3.75 cm) clear photograph
of the applicant. Do Not Staple the Photograph. The photo must be
taped with clear tape.
IV. Where to Send the Visa Lottery Application
Each applicant must apply only once. Husbands and wives may and should
apply separately. Applicants who apply more than once will be disqualified.
Lottery Applicants must send the Lottery application in a plain envelope
size 6 inches to 10 inches (15 cm to 25 cm) by 3 1/2 inches to 4 1/2 inches
(9 cm to 11 cm) that contains the following information on the upper left
* applicant’s native country (or country to which applicant will be
* applicant’s full name
* applicant’s mailing address (as shown on the application).
Only Brazilians (and natives of other qualifying South American, Central
American and Caribbean countries) must send the envelope to the following
National Visa Center
Portsmouth, NH 00211
Natives of other countries need to use a different zip code. The envelope
must be sent via regular mail or air mail. Only the Lottery winners will
be notified beginning sometime in mid-1997. Each winner should immediately
start processing his or her paperwork according to instructions.
The US State Department has set up a Lottery Visa Hotline at 1-900-884-8840
that charges a flat fee of $5.10 per call for instructions and printed
Lottery applicants should avoid paying an unreasonable fee for assistance
in the preparation of a Lottery Application. Brazilians should stay away
from immigration consultants who promise or guarantee a green card when
applying for a Visa Lottery.
Keep in mind that each lottery winner still has to meet the requirements
for admission as a lawful permanent resident.
All Lottery applicants who reside in the United States should get legal
advice from an experienced attorney who handles immigration matters about
the process of adjustment under the restrictionist Immigration Act of 1996
that President Clinton signed into law in September 1996.
Edgardo Quintanilla is a Member of the
State Bar of California. He can be reached at (818) 897-3661 or through
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