Solomon Islanders interested in immigrating to the United States have a chance to secure a visa through a lottery program that will begin accepting applications tomorrow.
The U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa Program awards immigrant visas to nationals of qualifying countries, including the Solomon Islands, every year.
But a problem with the application website over the past few weeks caused the loss of all applications submitted after the entry period began on 3 October, according to Mike Mitchell, consular officer for the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Applicants who already submitted entries for the 2019 visa program must reapply during the new application period that begins at 3 a.m. local time tomorrow and closes at 3 a.m on 23 November.
The program randomly selects applicants for the opportunity to interview for a U.S. immigrant visa. It is one of the only ways to become a legal permanent resident of the United States without a relative in the country or an employer sponsorship.
Applications can only be submitted through dvlottery.state.gov, and there is no fee to apply.
The United States issues 50,000 diversity visas every year, but Mr Mitchell said most applicants from the U.S. consular district of the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu do not make it through the entire application process.
“To think of sort of packing everything of your belongings into a suitcase and moving to a strange country and starting all over from scratch without any help from anybody is a huge hurdle for most people from the region,” Mr Mitchell said.
Applicants from the three countries either fail to qualify for some reason or drop out of the process towards the end, he said.
In the last cycle, only one applicant from the consular district made it to the interview stage.
“We really want to encourage more and more people to apply,” Mr Mitchell said. “It’s a quite easy process, but we understand that, culturally, it’s a huge step to take to want to move to the United States.”