The Green Card Lottery, or as it is officially called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, is one of the ways to gain permanent resident status in the U.S. Each year, the lottery provides immigrant visas to 50,000 randomly selected applicants. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of State and its purpose is to diversify the immigrant population of the United States. People who enter the lottery must meet a few eligibility requirements and be from countries with low rates of immigration.
There are a few requirements an applicant must meet in order to qualify for the Green Card Lottery:
Minimum Education Requirement
The applicant must have either (1) a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; or (2) two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.
If selected, proof of education or work experience must be available to be presented to the consul at the time of the visa interview.
Qualifying Country Requirement
The current list of ineligible countries includes Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominic 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. This list can change on a yearly basis due to the number of immigrants admitted to the U.S. every year from each country.
Persons born in an ineligible country may nonetheless qualify by claiming a spouse’s country of birth if the spouse, who is named on the entry, was born in an eligible country. Alternatively, those born in an ineligible country may be able to claim a parent’s country of birth, if neither parent was born or legally resided in the country of the applicant’s birth at the time of the applicant’s birth.
While the green card lottery registration process does not require you to prove your admissibility to the U.S. as an immigrant, applicants should consider all U.S. admissibility requirements before registering. For example, if you have a criminal conviction or have previously overstayed your visa in the U.S., you should consult an attorney.
Registering for the Green Lottery Program (DV Lottery)
The diversity visa process is lengthy. The registration period for the green card lottery program begins around October 1st and ends around November 1st of each year, for visas to be issued in the following fiscal year (fiscal year is October 1 – September 30). You cannot register outside of these dates. A random computerized drawing is conducted around May of the next calendar year after your registration.
The only way to enter the Green Card Lottery is to apply online on the website of the U.S. Department of State. While applicants may seek assistance with their online registration, the Department of State has warned of possible scams. Each applicant will need to file an online form called Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (DS-5501). This form cannot be downloaded. Also, paper entries are not accepted. Further, there is no cost to enter an application for the program.
Full name: last/family name, first/given name, middle name
Date of birth: date, month, and year of birth
Gender: male or female
City and country of birth
Country of eligibility for the Green Card Lottery (usually the country of birth)
Photograph: a recent digital photograph of the applicant
Country where applicant currently resides
The highest level of education the applicant has achieved as of the date of the application
Marital status and, if applicable, the name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, country of birth of your spouse, and a photograph of your spouse
Number of children and, if applicable, the name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, and country of birth for all living unmarried children under 21 years of age
Keep your confirmation number
After the applicant successfully submits his or her application, he or she is given a confirmation number. This conformation number is needed to check the results of the computerized drawing. It is imperative that applicants save their confirmation numbers. The Department of State will not otherwise notify the selectees.
Only one entry per person
Do not submit duplicate entries. If you do, you will be disqualified from the lottery.
Each family member should submit a separate entry
Some family members may be eligible for follow-to-join benefits. Accordingly, to increase your chances of selection, each family member should submit a separate entry.
If you are interested in receiving help with filling out the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form, contact us at 1-844-HOLBORN and one of our immigration attorneys will be happy to assist you.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for general informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as legal advice. As with any laws, the information in this blog post may change at any time and may apply differently in different jurisdictions. The post may constitute Attorney Advertising as defined by the rules of professional responsibility of some jurisdictions. Holborn Law is based in Orange County and Riverside. The attorneys of Holborn Law APC are active members of the State Bar of California and licensed to practice law in California. All services relating to immigration and naturalization provided by Holborn Law APC are provided by active members of the State Bar of California or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California.