USA and the UK
- Diversity Visa Program
- What is the Diversity Visa Lottery Program?
- What are the requirements to participate in the Green Card Lottery?
- How to enter the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
- Selection of applicants
- What are the eligibility criteria for adjusting your status?
- Diversity Visa Lottery supporting documents
- Find out how we can help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Diversity Visa Program
The Diversity Visa Program allows the foreign citizens of countries with a low rate of immigration to the United States to obtain immigrant visas (aka, green cards).
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 during the fiscal year are not allowed. Each applicant is permitted only one entry per registration period.
There is no cost to register for the Diversity Immigrant Visa 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 the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery.
This is open only for applicants from eligible countries that have a historically low immigration rate to the U.S.
Every fiscal year, only a limited number of immigrant 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 and its application process.
If you do not complete your lottery entry form correctly or if you submit it at the wrong time, you will be automatically disqualified from the DV program.
What are the requirements to participate in the Green Card Lottery?
For entry into the Green Card Lottery (aka, the DV program), 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
There are strict eligibility requirements for this program. If you are selected but do not meet the requirements, your immigrant visa will not be issued.
More Details on the Eligibility Criteria
Applicants must meet general requirements applicable to all immigrants, such as passing health and criminal background checks and demonstrating sufficient means of support.
There are two major eligibility parameters for the Green Card Lottery:
1. Requirement of Education and Work Experience
To be eligible for the immigrant visa after being selected, applicants must meet have completed a high school education or have two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.
2. Country of Origin
Applicants must have been born in a country that has sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous 5 years – not including diversity immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers.
If your native country is not eligible for the Diversity Visa, there are still two ways you can qualify.
- You can claim your spouse’s country of birth, provided they were born in an eligible country or
- If neither of your parents was born or legally resided in your country of birth at the time of your birth, you can choose your mother’s or father’s country of birth.
It is important to note that your country of residence or nationality is not a factor in the lottery.
How to enter the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
The Diversity Visa Program 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 and must be submitted electronically. There is no charge for registering, nor fee to enter the lottery and you can not submit more than one entry.
You can access the form through the U.S. State Department’s official website. Please keep in mind that the application can only be done on this website and not on any other internet sites. No paper entries are accepted for the Diversity Visa 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 applications.
All the information about successful applicants in the annual lottery is updated on the Electronic Diversity Visa website. Please note that the DOS will not notify winners of the lottery program. 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 lottery winners 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.
To take part in the lottery, you need to complete the correct form between early October and early November. Some of the questions are straightforward but there are a few things you need to ensure are done properly otherwise your application could be rejected.
- You need to upload recent photos of yourself, your spouse and your children (if applicable)
- You must give the name of the country as it was when you were born – even if it no has a different name.
- You must list your spouse and all your children, including step-children under age 21.
Diversity Lottery Timeline
After you apply, you will be given an unique confirmation number that you need to keep to keep track of your application.
The State Department will let you know if you have been selected. The next step is to then complete all the requirements for the Green Card application process. Then, the U.S Embassy will review your visa request.
Winning the Diversity Visa Lottery
If win the Green Card lottery, you will be notified in 7 months after submitting your entry. But it could take up to 14 months to get your visa after you are selected, depending on how soon you apply.
The sooner you apply, then generally the quicker you will get your visa. Your visa will be valid for up to 6 months from the issue date.
The whole process, from the lottery to immigration, usually takes about 2 years, but there are no guarantees on the exact timeline.
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.
Diversity Visa Lottery supporting documents
Once you have been selected as a Diversity visa lottery recipient, you can proceed with your application to legally immigrate to the United States.
You will need to scan and email a valid DS-260 application form along with your other documents.
Your Diversity Visa Program visa 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
Importance of the Diversity Visa Program
Every year, the Diversity Visa program grants permanent residency to individuals selected at random from countries with low immigration rates to the United States.
This program provides a legal avenue for individuals and families who would otherwise have no means of immigrating to the United States.
Many people around the world apply for this lottery every year to get the benefits associated with living in the US, but less than 0.5% of applicants are accepted.
How Many Diversity Visas are Allocated to Each Country?
The Diversity Visa program distributes visas among six regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania.
Within each region, visas are randomly allocated among all applicants from that region, but no single country can receive more than 7% of the total diversity visas.
Regions that sent more than one-sixth of the total number of immigrants to the United States in the previous five years are considered “high-admission regions,” while those that sent less than one-sixth are “low-admission regions”.
The proportion of Diversity Visas given to the low-admission group is based on the proportion of recent immigrants from the high-admission group and vice versa.
The list of eligible countries can change each year. The following countries’ natives are ineligible for the DV-2024 lottery, which had its entry period in 2022. Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Get in touch with an immigration expert if you are uncertain if you qualify to take part in the Diversity Lottery.
Entering the Diversity Visa Lottery Guarantees a Visa
One common myth is that entering the lottery guarantees a visa. However, winning the lottery only makes an individual eligible to apply for a visa and there are a limited number of visas available.
Winning the Diversity Visa Lottery Means Automatic Citizenship
Another misconception about the Diversity Visa Lottery is that winning the lottery means automatic citizenship.
However, winning the lottery is only the first step in the immigration process. After winning the lottery, applicants must undergo a rigorous screening process, including background checks, medical exams and interviews before being granted a visa.
Even after receiving a visa, applicants must still meet residency and other requirements before they can become US citizens.
It is Easy to Cheat the Diversity Visa Lottery System
Some people believe that it is easy to cheat the Diversity Visa Lottery system. However, the US government takes fraud and misuse of the program very seriously.
The Department of State has implemented strict rules and regulations to ensure the integrity of the program. Applicants who are found to have committed fraud or cheated the system will be disqualified from the program and could face legal consequences.
The Diversity Visa Lottery is a Scam
This misconception is likely due to the many scams and fraudulent activities that have been associated with the program. It is important to understand that the Diversity Visa Lottery is a legitimate program, and the only way to apply is through the official website of the US Department of State.
To increase your chances of success in obtaining a Diversity Immigrant Visa, it is important to understand and comply with relevant immigration regulations. At IAS, our experienced legal professionals can provide guidance and assistance in navigating the complex U.S. immigration system.
Our immigration attorneys will help you understand the requirements and provide advice on the best course of action for maintaining lawful immigration status and employment authorization in the U.S. With our expert support, you can avoid potential consequences and secure your future in the United States.
To learn more about how we can help you with your Diversity Immigrant Visa application, contact us at +1 844 290 6312 or through our website to schedule a consultation today.
Last modified on July 27th, 2023 at 6:39 am
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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 into 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, which 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’ details in 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 family relationship.
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.
If you have family members abroad who do not qualify for an immigrant visa, they can still come to the United States to visit you for short periods of time by applying for a B2 Visitor Visa or entering the U.S. via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).