The US Embassy to Azerbaijan comments on the letter from Azerbaijani DV Visa Program winners
According to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Turan News, a group of winners of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program from Azerbaijan has sent a letter asking for support.
The comment of the US Embassy to Azerbaijan is as follows:
“Over the course of the past year and a half, the global COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of people around the world, crippling governments and national economies, closing schools and businesses, and shutting down international travel. Worldwide, more than four million people have died and hundreds of millions more patients and their families have been affected. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in visa processing capacity overseas. Throughout this difficult period, our U.S. Embassies and Consulates have prioritized services to U.S. citizens overseas, as well as urgent and emergency visa services (such as for those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the pandemic).
Posts that are able to provide additional services are prioritizing immigrant visas for immediate family members of U.S. citizens, including spouses and children, intercountry adoptions, and fiancé(e)s, as well as certain special immigrant visas. Posts that are also able to process nonimmigrant visas are prioritizing cases with extreme humanitarian considerations and those for people traveling to provide vital support to public health or national security.
Not all U.S. Embassies abroad process immigrant visas, including diversity visas, and citizens of a number of countries are required to travel to a nearby U.S. Embassy to process their immigrant visa applications.
Unique in the world, the Diversity Immigrant Visa program has positively contributed to America’s multi-cultural make-up, which we view as one of our country’s key strengths. Because of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is impossible to forecast how many diversity visas we will issue this year, but we want to set appropriate expectations and say that it is very likely we will not issue the full 2021 allotment of diversity visas allowed by law”, – reads the answer of the Embassy.
Please read more on the U.S. Visas News page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/immigrant-visa-prioritization.html) on the Department of State website.
Attachment 1: Letter from Azerbaijan DV Winners
We are selected participants (1439 people and their families) of the “Green Card” lottery from Azerbaijan – currently in a very difficult situation, we ask you to hear our voices and help us bring our problem to the appropriate authorities.
The Diversity Visa program, run annually by the US Department of State, attracts millions of people around the world, and applicants are selected at random using a special computer program. For many years, for those who have been participating in this program for years, sometimes decades, the chance of being selected is less than 1%. And we were very happy when we found out that we were chosen.
Of all the countries participating in the program, only for participants from Azerbaijan, visa interviews are conducted not in Baku, but in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. However, the interviews of the current period, which were supposed to begin in September 2020, in connection with the pandemic, began about seven months later – in March-April of this year.
Due to the limited time, starting in July, interviews for participants are intensively scheduled in all embassies of the world, but for reasons unknown to us at the US Embassy in Tbilisi, this process is extremely slow. The US Embassy in Tbilisi accepts only a few people for interviews each week. This now leads to the fact that people, even with small case numbers, actually lose their chance. The problem is that the process will end in September (2 months left). According to the latest statistics, out of 1419 cases awaiting interviews, only 74 received invitations, and only 51 (approx. 4%!) were issued visas (this is a very small figure compared to other embassies).
We have repeatedly written and called the US Embassy in Georgia about this. However, they recommend that we contact the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). The KCC, in turn, claims that interviews are scheduled on the basis of a request for admission of participants to the US embassies in different countries.
Thus, we, the participants from Azerbaijan, along with the problem of inability to pass an interview for a DV visa in our own country for many decades, are faced with the problem of very slow sending of invitations by the US Embassy in Georgia.
We don’t deserve this kind of indifference! After the initial selection to participate in the lottery, we spent a significant amount of effort, time, money on the preparation of the requested documents and evidence and patiently waited for the interviews. But now the joy of this “victory” has turned into a nightmare for our families, and some of them already think that it would be better if we did not “win” at all. Because for those who participate in the program, the opportunity to get even a tourist visa to the United States is already disappearing.
We have done in good faith everything that was required of us by the KCC. Taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic and the requirement to stay in Georgia for 10 days, we are ready to fulfill other necessary requirements related to the pandemic, just to speed up the process.
We are not just numbers waiting for their turn for an interview, we are numerous human destinies – men, women and children.
Please help us with solving this problem by bringing it to the US Ambassador to Georgia.
With hope and respect,
Numerous participants of the Diversity Visa 2021 program and their family members from Azerbaijan.