Visa Services
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News Flash
  • 9/30/2014 2016 Diversity Visa Program Registration

    The 2016 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2016) will open at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Wednesday, October 1, 2014, and will close at noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST), Monday, November 3, 2014. Applicants must submit entries electronically during this registration period using the electronic DV entry form (E-DV) at Paper entries will not be accepted. All entrants must print and retain their online confirmation page after completing their DV entries so that they will be able to check their entry status. We strongly encourage applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after noon EST on November 3, 2014.

    The annual DV program makes visas available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. A computer-generated, random drawing chooses selectees for Diversity Visas. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the period of the past five years. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.

    For DV-2016, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years: BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, NIGERIA, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.

    A “native” ordinarily means someone born within a particular country, regardless of the individual's current country of residence or nationality. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

    The Department of State implemented the electronic registration system beginning with DV-2005 in order to make the DV process more efficient and secure. We utilize special technology and other means to identify those who commit fraud for the purposes of illegal immigration or those who submit multiple entries.

    For DV-2016, the Department of State will once again implement an online process to notify entrants of their selection, and to provide information about the immigrant visa application and interview. Beginning May 5, 2015, DV-2016 entrants will be able to use their unique confirmation number provided at registration to check online through Entry Status Check at to see if their entry was selected. Successful entrants will receive instructions for how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and their eligible family members.

    Confirmation of visa interview appointments will also be made through Entry Status Check.

    For detailed information about entry requirements, along with frequently asked questions about the DV program, please see the instructions for the DV-2016 program available at

  • 8/6/2014 U.S. Department of State Follow-Up

    "We have made significant progress and issued most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases. We are working to bring the Consular Consolidated Database back to full operational capacity. We continue to prioritize immigrant visas, adoption cases, and emergency nonimmigrant visa cases. We are printing visas for these cases with very few delays. We are aware of a small number of visa cases still in process because of system performance issues. We are working diligently to clear those cases. Visa applicants are advised they might still experience delays of up to one week in addition to normal processing times. Applicants should take this into consideration when making travel plans. Please check with the embassy or consulate where you will apply for additional information."

  • 7/31/2014 U.S. Department of State: Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), Performance Issues, and Steps Taken

    “The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) is still performing below its normal operational capacity. However, to give you an idea of the progress we have made, from the start of the operational issues on July 20 through July 28, we issued more than 220,000 nonimmigrant visas globally. Based on our average production figures, we would have anticipated issuing closer to 425,000 nonimmigrant visas in that time period, indicating we have been able to print nonimmigrant visas for about half of all approved travelers. It will take some weeks before we are back to normal turnaround times on issued visas.”

    A detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) was also issued. To summarize, due to intermittent performance issues, the CCD software was updated per industry recommendations. After the updates, the database began experiencing significant performance issues. The systems team is working to resolve these issues.

    All visa applicants should expect delays. Immigrant visa and adoption cases, nonimmigrant medical emergencies, and humanitarian cases are the highest priorities. Each embassy and consulate will post contact information on its website for applicants with questions about the status of their cases. Each applicant should check the webpage of the embassy or consulate where the visa interview was conducted for additional information. In addition to communicating through their websites, e-mail, and letters, the Department of State is also reaching out to applicants via Facebook and other social media sites, such as Weibo, to relay the latest information.

    ”Current efforts are focused on restoring the system to normal operations, while continuing to adjudicate new applications. The Department of State is committed to reducing the number of pending visa cases as quickly as possible. Applicants should anticipate that visa issuance may be delayed 10-14 days until the system is restored to full functionality and pending applications are printed.”

    While this notice does not include H-1B, O-1 and E-3 employees, these visa applicants are also affected.

    People traveling under the Visa Waiver Program are not affected; nor are those whose previously-issued visas remain valid.

    Key responses from the Department of State for our international population:

    Q: Is the Department going to reimburse applicants who missed flights/canceled weddings/missed funerals?
    We sincerely regret any delays, inconvenience, or expense that applicants may have incurred due to the CCD performance issues. We have always advised travelers NOT to make final travel plans until they have a visa in hand. Even when the CCD is operating normally, there may be delays in visa approval or issuance.

    Q: How is this impacting student visas? They are scheduled to start the fall semester soon.
    We understand the importance to international students and exchange visitors, their families, and their U.S. host institutions of timely visa issuance in order to facilitate travel and to ensure all students and exchange visitors may begin their programs on time.

    We are committed to issuing visas to all qualified students and exchange visitors. Student and exchange visitor visa applicants should submit their applications well in advance of expected travel dates. We will make every effort to ensure timely visa issuance.

    Q: What about situations where the student won’t arrive to school on time?
    Students should contact their educational institution’s Designated School Official (F and M visas) or designated U.S. sponsor’s Responsible Officer (J visas) and discuss with them what arrangements they can provide for you to begin your program after the start date on your Form I-20 (F and M visas) or Form DS 2019 (J visas), should such a circumstance become necessary.

    We routinely advise visa applicants to make appointments well in advance of planned travel, and not to book their travel until they have their printed visas in hand.

    The Visa Services Office will continue to send updates as they become available.

  • 7/25/2014 - U.S. Department of State Important Notice

    The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa system. We are operational, but currently issuing documents at a reduced capacity. This issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. We apologize to applicants who are experiencing delays or are unable to obtain a passport, Report of Birth Abroad, or visa at this time. We are working urgently to correct the problem and expect our system to be fully operational again soon. Routine passport services are not affected at this time.

    They will be posting updates to Travel.State.Gov as more information becomes available.

  • 6/6/2014 - DOS Alert: TCN Processing in Canada "Extremely Limited" This Summer

    DOS informed reliable sources that due to increasingly heavy demand by Canada-based visa applicants, the seven U.S. visa processing posts in Canada are extremely limited in their ability to accept TCN cases during the peak demand period of June, July, and August. Canadian posts encourage such applicants to seek appointments elsewhere in the world, such as in the applicant’s home country. Canadian posts offer increased appointment availability for TCNs during non-peak processing times, such as October and November, and January through May.

    Emergency cases may seek consideration for scheduling an interview by visiting the U.S. Embassy of Ottawa webpage.

  • 6/5/2014 - Secretary Johnson Announces Process for DACA Renewal

    Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today announced the process for individuals to renew enrollment in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has submitted to the Federal Register an updated form to allow individuals previously enrolled in DACA, to renew their deferral for a period of two years.

    For more information, please read the full article on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

  • 6/5/2014 - ICE Granted DACA Renewal Guidance

    This notice contains renewal information only for those individuals granted DACA by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from June 15, 2012 until August 15, 2012, when USCIS started receiving requests. Our records indicate that this notice only applies to a small fraction of the DACA population. This notice does not apply to any individuals who received deferred action by making a request to USCIS using Form I-821D on or after August 15, 2012. In the coming months, USCIS will issue guidance about the renewal process for this group.

    For more information, please read the full article on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

  • 5/13/2014 - C2 Bus Schedule For Smith Warehouse

As we have been notified by Parking and Transportation Services, the C2 (East-Central-West) bus will begin transporting customers to
and from Smith Warehouse beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, May 13. This is due to road construction along Campus Drive. Passengers will be served at the outbound Maxwell Street stop across from Smith Warehouse.

Buses will stop at the Smith Warehouse Monday through Friday throughout the summer with 15-20 minute service from 7:32 a.m. - 6:02 p.m. and 35 minute service from
6:02 - 8:57 p.m. on weekdays.

For more information, please visit the C2 Bus Schedule webpage provided by Parking and Transportation Services.

  • 2/20/2014 - USCIS and ICE Guidance for Individuals Renewing DACA Employment Authorization

    Reminder for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients with expiring employment authorization documents (EAD) to apply at the CIS website for renewal in the next 120 days.
  • 1/28/2014- Employment Authorization Information Sessions for F-1 and J-1 students

Are you a F-1 or J-1 Duke-Sponsored student planning to work away from Duke's campus after your May graduation or during the summer? If so, you must apply for either Optional Practical Training (OPT for F-1 students), Academic Training (AT for J-1 students) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT for F-1 students before graduation).

Currently, USDHS is taking at least two to three months to approve OPT applications. You *cannot* work until you have the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in your possession.  You also *cannot* travel outside the U.S. after graduation until your application has been approved.

The Duke Visa Services Office has scheduled the following Employment Authorization Information Sessions for all Duke-Sponsored F-1 and J-1 -international students:

  • Monday, January 27 – 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 11 – 10:30 a.m.
  • Friday, February 28 – 3:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 19 – 10:30 a.m.

Pratt Masters and PHD students and students from the Fuqua School of Business will have separate meetings. Check your emails for announcements!

Please arrive 15 minutes early to claim your seat. All sessions will be held at the conference room #B143 at Smith Warehouse, 114 S. Buchanan Blvd, Duke University. Directions to the Smith Warehouse can be found on our Driving Directions and Map wepage.

This is your opportunity to ask employment authorization procedure questions directly to a Duke Visa Services Advisor.

If you cannot attend one of the Information Sessions, you can find all the information and a powerpoint presentation on these pages of our website:


Program Overview:

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered annually by the Department of State. Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For fiscal year 2015, 50,000 diversity visas (DVs) will be available.

There is no cost to register for the DV Program. Applicants who are selected in the lottery (“selectees”) must meet simple, but strict, eligibility requirements in order to qualify for a Diversity visa . Selectees are chosen through a randomized computer drawing. Diversity visas are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than s even percent of the available DVs in any one year.

Details can be found at the following webpage:

  • 7/2/2013 : Implementation of the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

“After last week's decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I (Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano) have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

More information can be found at:

  • 6/13/2013 Scam Alert: Individuals Misrepresenting Themselves as DHS Employees Calling Indian Nationals

The American Council on International Personnel (ACIP) has received recent reports of Indian nationals in the U.S. receiving phone calls from people falsely representing themselves as DHS employees asking the foreign nationals to pay a penalty via money transfer to resolve discrepancies in their immigration cases.  The people making the phone calls have had access to personal information such as passport numbers and foreign addresses and have threatened adverse actions such as deportation.

While we know some phone calls have come from Ohio numbers with a 567 area code, we have also heard reports that such calls might also be coming from Washington, DC with a 202 area code.

ACIP has alerted the Department of State, USCIS and the CIS Ombudsman about the matter.    

  • 04/03/2013 - TPS Update: Temporary Protected Status Extended for Honduras

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Honduras for an additional 18 months, beginning July 6, 2013, and ending Jan. 5, 2015.

Current Honduran beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS status must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from April 3, 2013, through June 3, 2013. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to register as soon as possible once the 60-day re-registration period begins. Applications will not be accepted before April 3, 2013.

Additional information can be found at:

  • 03/21/2013 - Automation of Form I-94

    As you prepare to take your summer vacation or travel for business during the summer, the following information is extremely important:

    As of 4/30/2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the ports of entry will no longer issue paper I-94s to foreign nationals entering the U.S. by air or sea. Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper form I-94 at land border ports of entry. CBP will phase-in the Form I-94 automation at air and sea ports through April and May. Foreign nationals will continue to receive the paper Form I-94 unil the automated process arrives at their port of entry. Following automation, the record number and other admission information will be available at WILL NOT BECOME A LIVE WEBSITE UNTIL THE END OF APRIL.

Detailed information can be found at:

  • 01/09/2013 - DHS Announces Redesignations and 18-Month Extensions of Temporary Protected Status for Sudan and South Sudan

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today redesignated Sudan and South Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and extended the existing TPS designations for the two countries from May 3, 2013, through Nov. 2, 2014. This allows eligible nationals of the two countries to register or re-register for TPS in accordance with notices for Sudan  and South Sudan  published today in the Federal Register. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages eligible individuals to register or re-register as soon as possible.


  • 1/9/2013 - Department of State Online Visa Application Status Check Now Available

You can now check the status of your visa application through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website at You will need to input the barcode number (application ID) from your DS-160 application to access your case and provide the visa type.

  • 11/28/2012 - USCIS Director Mayorkas Unveils Online Entrepreneur Resource Center at MIT

Today , U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas marked a significant milestone for the USCIS Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) initiative by launching an online resource center at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship in Cambridge, Mass. The resource center, Entrepreneur Pathways , provides entrepreneurs who seek to start a business in the United States an intuitive way to navigate the immigration process.  It also provides information on future opportunities for engagement with the entrepreneurial community .  For more information, please visit the USCIS blog, The Beacon .

Entrepreneur Pathways

USCIS Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) initiative


  • 10/01/2012 -DHS also extends the suspension of certain requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant Haitian students

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has extended :

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti for an additional 18 months. Napolitano is also  extending : the suspension of certain requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant Haitian students.

The extension of TPS for Haiti will begin Jan. 23, 2013, and end July 22, 2014. Secretary Napolitano first designated Haiti for TPS on Jan. 21, 2010, after major earthquakes devastated the country.

Current Haitian TPS beneficiaries, who have continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2011, and seek to extend their TPS status, must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs through Nov. 30, 2012, if they wish to maintain their TPS. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible within the 60-day period. USCIS will accept applications starting today through Nov. 30, 2012. Individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2011, will not be eligible.

Read the entire post at Temporary Protected Status Extended for Haitians 10VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD on the USCIS website .

  • 9/25/2012- USCIS Reminds Syrians to Register for Temporary Protected Status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds Syrian nationals (and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) that the registration deadline for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is Sept. 25, 2012.

Syrian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since March 29, 2012, and who meet other TPS eligibility requirements, must file their applications for TPS with a postmark date no later than Sept. 25, 2012. The TPS designation for Syria will remain in effect through Sept. 30, 2013.

USCIS advises Syrian nationals (and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) to review their TPS application packages carefully. Details and procedures for applying for TPS are provided on the USCIS website and in the  Federal Register  notice announcing TPS for  Syria .

For more information on TPS, visit .

  • 9/20/2012 - 2014 Diversity Visa Lottery

Online registration for the 2014 Diversity Visa Lottery will begin on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and end on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4).

This congressionally mandated program makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas every year. Winners are randomly drawn from the people who enter and meet strict eligibility requirements. In order to be eligible, you must be from a country with low rates of immigration to the United States and meet the education or work experience requirements : es_1322.html#occupations

If you plan to apply, watch out for fraudulent websites posing as official U.S. government websites. Some companies posing as the U.S. government have sought money in order to "complete" DV entry forms. There is no charge to download and complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form. To learn more, see the Department of State warning :

Find out if you're eligible to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery and learn how to apply

  • 8/22/2012 - Sanctions Law Applies To Iranian Students Preparing For Energy or Nuclear Sector Careers In Iran

    On August 10, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act of 2012? [Pub.L. 112-158]. Section 501 of that law provides:   The Secretary of State shall deny a visa to, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall exclude from the United States, any alien who is a citizen of Iran that the Secretary of State determines seeks to enter the United States to participate in coursework at an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)) to prepare the alien for a career in the energy sector of Iran or in nuclear science or nuclear engineering or a related field in Iran. This provision is effective "with respect to visa applications filed on or after" August 10, 2012. The bipartisan legislation, led by the chair and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), respectively, passed both the House and Senate almost unanimously just before breaking for the August recess.


  • 8/16/2012: UPDATE: Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process

As the follow-up to Secretary Napolitano's announcement regarding the deferred action process for young people who are low enforcement priorities, instructions can be found at the following website:


  • 8/16/2012: CBP Discontinues Stamping Form I-20 and Form DS-2019 At Ports of Entry

    We received notification from the Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP) at the Raleigh-Durham Airport that CBP “ is no longer stamping I-20s and DS-2019s at the ports of entry. Recognizing that some staff at certain benefit granting agencies (for example, motor vehicle agencies) look for a stamp on these documents before granting a benefit, USCIS is conducting extensive outreach to ensure that these agencies are aware of this change”.

  • May 11, 2012 - Additions to the STEM-Designated Degree Program List

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension. This announcement builds on a series of administrative reforms designed to further the Department's commitment to attracting international students.

"Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation's economic, scientific and technological competitiveness," said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. "International students and exchange visitors bring invaluable contributions to our nation, and this helps empower the next generation of international entrepreneurs, right here in America."

Under the OPT program, international students who graduate from colleges and universities in the United States are able to remain in the country and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program can remain for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension.

By expanding the list of designated STEM degree programs to include such fields as pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics and quantitative economics, the Department is helping bring the best, most qualified international students to the United States.

These reforms reflect the Obama administration's ongoing commitment to promote policies that embrace talented students from other countries, who come to study in our finest colleges and universities and enrich the nation by allowing highly skilled foreign graduates to extend their post-graduate training in the United States and work in their field of study upon graduation.

A full list of expanded STEM degrees is available here .

Earlier this year, DHS announced several measures they will implement to streamline existing pathways for immigrant entrepreneurs to enter and create businesses in the U.S., retain more foreign-born science and technology graduates from U.S. universities, facilitate immigration by top researchers, and help U.S. startups and other companies compete for global talent.

For more information, visit .

  • May 1, 2012 — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has re-designated Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and has extended the existing TPS designation for Somalia from Sept. 18, 2012 through March 17, 2014, allowing eligible nationals of Somalia to register or re-register for TPS in accordance with the Federal Register notice.

Somali nationals with TPS who are seeking to re-register for TPS must file their application packages during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from May 1, 2012, through July 2, 2012. Somalis (or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) in the United States who do not currently have TPS may apply under the re-designation during the six-month period that runs from May 1, 2012 through Oct. 29, 2012. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages eligible individuals to register as soon as possible.

For the complete announcement please see DHS Announces Re-designation and 18-Month E xtension of Designation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status on the website.


Due to the violent upheaval and deteriorating situation in the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that eligible Syrian nationals (and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) in the United States may apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Details and procedures for applying for TPS are provided in the Federal Register notice published today and are available at

Read the entire Temporary Protected Status Designated for the Syrian Arab Republic Update on the www.uscis.go v website


  • 1/11/2012 - Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of El Salvador for an additional 18 months, beginning March 10, 2012, and ending Sept. 9, 2013.

     For more information - Temporary Protected Status Extended for Salvadorans

  • 1/4/2012 - Office of Refugee Resettlement (ACF: Warning of telephone grant scam targeting refugees from Bhutan

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been alerted to a new telephone scam apparently targeting Bhutanese refugees.  A man identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” calls from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, (202) 436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they are eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan.  To claim the money, they are instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money.   

Be advised that this is NOT a legitimate solicitation .

At least one refugee has been coerced into making multiple payments as “processing fees”, totaling more than $5,000. 

So far, reports are localized in Texas, but ORR advises everyone to be aware of this scam and avoid giving any personal information or payments to unknown callers.

Please note that the federal government does not demand processing fees or security deposits from grant recipients.  If you are the target of a suspicious request, please contact your local police or resettlement agency for further assistance.