14ymedio, Havana, 2 October 2015 — The anguish is over. After months of speculation, it has been confirmed that the recently begun United States Diversity Visa program for 2017 maintains a quota for Cubans, according to a statement from a consular official from the US Embassy in Havana at a press conference Friday.
Rumors in recent months pointed to a reduction or cancellation of the program for natives of the island due to the reestablishment of relations between Washington and Havana. However, the official – who did not give her name – told the national press that “as in prior years, Cuba is included in the program to support a safe, legal and orderly migration.”
The press conference was attended by official media, such as the newspaper Granma, the Cuban Television and the National Information Agency (AIN), along with other media such as OnCuba, CubaNet and 14ymedio. The press conference took place in a room inside the newly opened US American Embassy in Havana’s Vedado district.
The consular official specified that each year, “55,000 visas are granted to people who meet the eligibility requirements,” and detailed the registration process, emphasizing that it is free of charge. The application to join the program must be made through the web site www.dvlottery.state.gov and once completed the form will receive an electronic confirmation.
There are six geographical areas from which people can participate and no country can receive more than 7% of the total visas available in a single year. The applicant must also meet competency requirements, having completed high school or having at least two years of work experience within the last five years.
When asked by 14ymedio whether the embassy would offer times in their navigation rooms for Cuban citizens to enroll in the program, the official responded with a definite no. She further recommended “that applicants enter their own information and don’t use the help of an unknown person.” The deadline for applications ends this coming 3 November at noon.