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Jamaicans not eligible for Diversity Immigrant Visa programme

Wednesday, October 17, 2012    

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DUE to Jamaica's historic high rate of family-based immigration, Jamaican nationals are not eligible for the Diversity Immigrant Visa programme for 2014 and have not been eligible since the programme's inception in 1995.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa programme was established under Section 203(c) of the 1990 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Congress passed the bill with the intention of broadening the diversity of immigrants from beyond family-based immigration.

Under INA Section 203(c), 55,000 permanent resident visas are available annually to natives of countries with low rates of immigration to the US In 1997, Congress designated that 5,000 of the visas are reserved for NACARA ("Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act"), which provides special immigration benefits for certain Central American asylum seekers. Therefore, currently 50,000 permanent residence visas are available to individuals from qualifying countries.

Individuals from any country that has sent more than 50,000 family-sponsored or employment-sponsored immigrants to the US in the previous five years are not eligible to receive a diversity visa. Between the years of 2006 - 2011, nearly 51,000 immigrant visas were issued to Jamaican nationals and more than 99,000 Jamaican nationals obtained legal permanent residence in the US.

Since DV-1995, Jamaica, along with 17 other countries, has not been eligible for the programme. Along with Jamaica, the following countries are currently not eligible for DV-2014: Bangladesh; Brazil; Canada; China (mainland-born); Colombia; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Haiti; India; Mexico; Pakistan; Peru; Philippines; South Korea; United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories; and Vietnam.

The annual programme makes visas available to individuals who meet certain education or work requirements. A random computer-generated drawing chooses the 50,000 applicants. The applicants are divided among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas allotted to applicants coming from regions with lower rates of immigration. Under the Diversity Immigrant Visa programme, no single country may receive more than seven per cent of available diversity visas in any one year.

The US Embassy staff in Kingston will answer questions you may have regarding the US Mission, including consular law, regulations and/or practice. In order to respect privacy, staff will not answer questions about specific visa applications. The embassy employs a visa appointment system, so it is only necessary for visa applicants to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment.

Send your questions to:

editorial@jamaicaobserver.com and we will send them to the embassy.

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