Diversity Lottery
From The World Journal
December 27, 2003

The Diversity Visa (DV) program, generally known as the "greencard lottery", raised some confusion among applicants this year. The program, which used to accept paper application, accepts only electronic applications this year. The format of the photos caused many headaches for people who are inexperienced in handling electronic images.

A waitress, surnamed Liao, who works in a teahouse in Downtown Manhattan, said she asked her friend to scan her passport photo but it was rejected by the system set up by the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). She and her friends spent hours figuring out the proper format of the photo before the application was successfully submitted.

According to the USCIS, among the countries and regions with large ethnic Chinese population, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand are eligible for the program. Mainland China was excluded because of its large number of incoming immigrants to the U.S. every year.

The program, which has no entry fee, is no different from the past. The USCIS asks applicants to provide basic personal data, including birthplace, address…etc. However, all of the information has to be filled out online.

In addition, the program's website provides a list of countries and regions that are politically defined by the USCIS for applicants to select instead of allowing them to choose their own term. Applicants from Taiwan can only select "China-Taiwan" instead of just "Taiwan".

However, the most difficult part of the application is the photo. On the website, there is a "photo validator", which is used to verify whether the photo submitted meets the requirement. Applicants can upload the photo using the validator and get an instant response. The required format is 320x240 pixels for scanned photos and 300x300 pixels for photos taken with a digital camera. If the photo submitted does not meet the requirement, there will be warning in red to alert applicants.

An owner of a photo studio on Grand Street said he is not aware of the format required by the USCIS. He said although many of his customers ask him to save their digital photo onto a disc, no one has ever requested a specific format.

The 2005 DV program will randomly select 100,000 people from all the applicants but will only issue permanent residency to 50,000 people after the USCIS screens their qualifications. For more information, go to http://www.dvlottery.state.gov

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Translated from Chinese by Larry Tung

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