During the month of October, Costa Rican professionals can apply to a visa “lottery” granting residency in the United States. Ticos interested can apply online at www.dvlottery.state.gov. The last day to apply is November 3 at 10 a.m.
Countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States — including Costa Rica — can apply for residency as a “diversity immigrant,” as stated in Section 203(c) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. Some 50,000 diversity visas are distributed among six geographic regions worldwide. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year, according to the State Department.
While the lottery offers a fast pass to residency in the U.S., it’s not open to everyone. Applicants must have completed a high school education and have qualifying work experience. Only applicants working in specific occupations designated by the U.S. Department of Labor are eligible for the visa. People who do not meet these requirements should not apply. (Click here to see if your profession is listed).
The U.S. Embassy in San José issued a fraud warning stressing that there is no cost to apply and no intermediary required. Scammers are known to target people looking to visit or work in the U.S. by claiming that extraneous fees or forms are required.
In 2013, 4,365 Costa Ricans applied for the lottery, including spouse and children, according to the U.S. State Department. (The number of Ticos granted the visa was not available in the State Department stat sheet). More than 12.5 million people applied for a visa internationally.
Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras also are eligible for the lottery, despite the stories of tens of thousands of migrants rushing to the U.S. border this summer.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, immigrants from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and Peru are not eligible for the upcoming lottery.
Applicants can check to see if they’ve been selected online between May 5, 2015 and June 30, 2016. The State Department will not notify applicants about their status, regardless if they are selected.