USA and the UK
Diversity Visa Program
The Diversity Visa Program allows the nationals of countries with a low rate of immigration to the United States to get an immigrant visa.
There is a limited period during which you can register for the Green Card lottery each fiscal year. Your registration must be submitted online via the Diversity Visa website. Multiple entries are not allowed.
There is no cost to register for the DV Program, but you will be asked to pay a fee to adjust your status if you are selected.
What is the Diversity Visa Lottery Program?
Under the Immigration Act, “diversity immigrants” refer to foreign nationals selected by a Green Card Lottery.
This is open only for applicants from countries that have a historically low immigration rate to the U.S.
Every fiscal year, only a limited number of visas are available for the participants of this program. For this reason, the Diversity Visa Program is also known as the Green Card Lottery (or DV Lottery).
The U.S. immigration laws set strict requirements for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.
If you do not complete your lottery entry form correctly or if you submit it at the wrong time, you will be automatically disqualified.
What are the requirements to participate in the Green Card Lottery?
For entry into the Green Card Lottery, you must:
- Be a citizen of a foreign country with a low immigration rate to the United States. This list may change periodically as it is issued every year by the Department of State
- Have graduated from at least high school (or comparable to completion of a 12-year course in the U.S.)
- Have at least two years of qualifying work experience
- Not be eligible for any other way to get U.S. citizenship
- Hold a valid passport. Please note that this is a recently added requirement, that will become effective starting from the 2019 Lottery
If you are selected, but you do not meet the requirements, your Green Card will not be issued.
How to enter the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
The Green Card Lottery is open every year for four to five weeks. It is usually held in the fall but there is no fixed date for it. Results are then available in the spring of the following year.
Once the registrations are open, you can submit your application. This is an online form that cannot be downloaded or printed. There is no charge for registering, nor fee to enter the lottery.
If you have a spouse or children at the time of your application, you must include them on your original entry form. Otherwise, your case will be disqualified.
When you complete your registration, you will receive a confirmation number. You will need it the following year to check the status of your entry and to confirm your participation in case you have been chosen.
Selection of applicants
Each year, the DOS (Department of State) conducts a random selection of those who have submitted an entry. This is also based on available visas in each country from all the registered participants who have sent in their application.
All the information about successful applicants is updated on the Electronic Diversity Visa website. Please note that the DOS will not submit any individual notifications to selected participants. The only way to check the status of your entry is to access the website through your lottery confirmation number. If you have lost it, the DOS will not be able to resend another confirmation number to you.
Selected entrants will be directed to a confirmation page where they will get further instructions on how to proceed, including the fees connected with their ongoing application.
What are the eligibility criteria for adjusting your status?
The Diversity Visa Lottery Program is completely managed by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). If you are a permanent resident in the United States at the time you are selected, the USCIS will process your adjustment of status.
Before proceeding with your application, the USCIS needs to assess if you:
- Have correctly applied to and won the lottery
- Are already in the U.S. on an immigrant visa
- Are eligible to file a Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)
- Are legally admissible to the U.S.
Green Card Lottery supporting documents
Once you have been selected as a Green Card Lottery recipient, you can proceed with your application to settle in the U.S.
You will need to scan and email a valid DS-260 application form along with your other documents.
Your Diversity Visa Program interview can be scheduled only after you have submitted your application bundle, which must include:
- Your birth certificate
- Any court or prison records
- Military records (if applicable)
- Police certificates
- Photocopy of your passport’s biographic data page
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Once the results are available, you can check your status online. It is important to note that the DOS will not send you a letter or an email about your entry. You can only receive notification through the E-DV website, and you will need to confirm your participation as soon as possible.
If you are selected through the Green Card lottery drawing, you can move forward and apply for an immigrant visa (also known as Green Card). It is important to remember that being selected for the Visa lottery does not automatically guarantee your entry in the country. To adjust your immigration status in the U.S., you must still meet all the eligibility requirements set by the immigration law.
Your next step is submitting your visa application. You can use the DS Form 260, that you can find on the USCIS website. If your family circumstances have changed after you have entered the lottery, you need to include your new family members’ detail to your documents.
Along with your application form, you must submit the following documentation:
- Birth certificates (if you are traveling with minor dependents);
- Court and prison records (if applicable);
- Military records (if applicable);
- Police certificates.
The interview is a crucial part of your application. You can find all the relevant information about the date and the location, and further instructions, in your Entrant Status Check.
Before you attend your interview, you must schedule an appointment with a medical professional. Your relatives included in your application are required to complete a medical examination as well.
Prior to your interview, you must also pay your application fee of $330 per person. This is non-refundable, and the payment procedure may vary between different U.S. consulates.
Do not forget to bring two photos and your passport to the interview. You also need to gather other documents, such as proof of qualifying education or work experience, and your immigration status.
If your family members are applying with you, you must also include your marriage certificate and other evidence of your kinship.
Your relatives living abroad may get a family-based Green Card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. To be eligible, they must have been included in your lottery entry.
However, your family’s application can be processed only after you have adjusted your status as a permanent resident. You also need to notify the USCIS that your family intends to apply so that you can receive further instructions.
It is worth noting that your dependants still need to apply for and be issued an immigrant visa before the lottery ends. If your children turn 21 before they can get their visa, they will lose their status as derivative applicants.