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The Green Card Lottery Explained

Ever dream of winning the lottery? For some people in the Green Card Lottery, winning could mean starting a new life in a new country full of possibilities.

If you are interested in learning more about how to apply for immigrant visas, contact us today at +1 844 290 6312 . We are here to help you on the phone, online, or in person.

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    What is the Diversity Visa Program?

    The Diversity Visa (DV) Program, also known as the Green Card Lottery, is a great way for hopeful immigrants to come to the United States without needing employment or family sponsorship. It was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 as a way to attract more diverse immigrants to the United States.

    Every year, 50,000 people are randomly selected by a computer program from smaller countries where immigration to the United States is fairly low. Those selected are then invited to apply for permanent resident status in the United States.

    The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is run by the U.S. State Department who selects and notifies the winners through an online process. It is free to participate in but only one entry per applicant is allowed and applicants must be from eligible countries in order to be considered.

    person giving American flag

    Who is eligible for the Green Card Lottery?

    Anyone who would like to apply for the Green Card Lottery must be born from a country that has sent less than 50,000 immigrants in the past 5 years to the United States. Countries where there is high immigration to the U.S. such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines are usually not eligible. However, those from ineligible countries may still apply under these conditions:

    • The lottery participant can apply with their spouse provided that their spouse is from an eligible country
    • The lottery participant can choose either their mother or father’s country of birth if neither of their parents was legal residents in the lottery participant’s country of birth

    In addition to being from an eligible country, DV lottery applicants must also meet the minimum education requirements. To be eligible for a green card if chosen in the diversity lottery program, the applicant must have either of the following:

    • A minimum of high school education (or equivalent ). Any equivalent to a high school education includes the successful completion of formal courses of study which is comparable to a 12-year course in the United States. Equivalency certificates such as the G.E.D. will not be accepted.
    • A minimum of 2 years of work experience. This work experience must be within 5 years and in a profession that requires at least 2 years of training (According to the standards and guidelines determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

    Furthermore, Diversity Visa Lottery winners and their family members who are selected for green cards must meet the basic requirements for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This includes not being ineligible due to a criminal record with major arrests or serious crimes committed. The applicant must also pass the medical evaluation which determines that will not pose a health risk to the general public.

    How do you enter into the Green Card Lottery?

    To enter into the Green Card Lottery, each applicant must register their application with the Department of State during the designated registration period of the fiscal year. This is normally from early October to early November.

    Each participant can only enter once year fiscal year and there is no cost to enter. Those who attempt to make multiple entries into the system will be disqualified from the lottery.

    All lottery entries must be submitted online through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website. Both later and paper entries will not be accepted. After completing the online form, each applicant will be shown a confirmation screen with their name and confirmation number on it. It is important to print out this confirmation page and keep it safe for later use. The confirmation number will be used later to check the status of the entry and if the individual was selected for a visa. If selected, this confirmation number will also be used later in the visa application process such as scheduling a visa interview.


    Do you need help applying for a green card? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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      What information should I provide in the Diversity Visa Lottery application?

      The Diversity Visa lottery application form is fairly straightforward. Each applicant is encouraged to complete it him/herself. If a visa agent or consultant helps the applicant fill out and submit the form, the applicant must be present at the time it is being completed to ensure that all the information submitted is correct and accurate.

      After fully completing and submitting the form, the applicant will receive a confirmation page along with the accompanying confirmation number. The applicant must keep this information as they will need it for later purposes.

      If you are filling out the application form yourself, it is important to answer everything truthfully as providing false information will result in immediate disqualification. In addition, it is important to keep in mind the following when submitting the form:

      • “Country of Birth” means the country you were born in (even if you no longer live there). If the country’s name has changed, use the country’s current name.
      • “Country of eligibility” use either the country of your birth, your spouse’s country, or one of your parents’ birth countries if any of those countries are deemed eligible in the DV lottery.
      • If you are still married but estranged, separated, or have no intention for your spouse to immigrate with you, you must still list the name of your spouse.
      • You must list all of your biological and adopted children regardless of age. If you have any step-children under 21 years old, they must also be listed.

      What do you do if you are selected?

      The Department of State randomly selects winners by a computer program. If an individual and their family are selected as a winner, he/she will not receive notification of selection by mail or email. The only way to determine if someone has been selected for a green card via the DV lottery is for the winner to check their application using Entrant Status Check.

      Individuals who are interested in checking the status of their application in the Green Card lottery can check online in early May. To do this, applicants can use the Entrant Status Check line on the Diversity Visa webpage using their confirmation number to see if they have been selected. If selected, the winner will be directed to a confirmation page that will provide further instructions on how to proceed with the next steps of the application process as well as any information on what fees are involved.

      Those lucky enough to be selected will then need to immediately begin the green card application process. The Department of State selects more entrants than there are diversity visas available. As a result, if the entrant fails to act quickly, they just might miss out on an available visa. Furthermore, all green card applications must be processed and visas issued by the end of the fiscal year in which the winner was selected.

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      How to apply for a green card

      Those who have been selected in the Green Card lottery for permanent residence will be notified by checking the Entrant Status Check on the Department of State website. It should be noted that this is the only way to check if an applicant has been selected in the Diversity Visa Program. If an applicant is selected, he/she will be directed to a confirmation page that will give further instructions regarding the next steps in the green card application process along with any fees associated with immigrating to the United States.

      If the applicant is residing outside of the United States, he/she will be instructed to complete DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application). This is an online form that asks questions regarding the applicant’s background, education, work experience, and family. After the applicant has completed this online form, the application will then be sent off to the National Visa Center (NVC) who will then forward the application to the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the applicant’s residing country.

      After the DS-260 online form has been completed, the applicant will then be instructed to schedule and attend an immigrant visa interview at their nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy and undergo a mandatory medical examination complete with receiving the necessary vaccinations. After the visa interview, the applicant will then receive a decision on the approval of their green card application.

      Applicants who are living in the United States under non-immigrant legal status and win the lottery for a green card can apply for adjustment of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). If approved, the applicant will then become a lawful permanent resident (aka, a green card holder).

      What documents are needed for a green card through the DV Lottery?

      Along with the DS-260 Form confirmation page, all green card applicants chosen through the DV Lottery will need to submit the following documents in order for their application to be processed:

      • A valid passport (this should be valid for at least six months beyond the issuance of your visa)
      • Birth certificates (the original birth certificate and one notary-certified birth certificate copy is required for each person applying)
      • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
      • Any documents reflecting the name change of the applicant
      • Photograph of the applicant taken according to US visa standards
      • Evidence of the required education requirement or work experience
      • Police certificates
      • Court and prison records (if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime)
      • Military records (if applicable)

      Any documents which are not in English need to be accompanied by certified English translations in order to be submitted for the visa application. All original civil documents will be returned to the visa applicant after the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

      How much does a green card cost in the Diversity Visa Lottery?

      Although there is no fee to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery, applicants will need to pay the following applicable fees if they are selected to become lawful permanent residents:

      • DS-260 fee: $325
      • Affidavit of Support fee: $120
      • I-485 fee (if applicable): $1,140
      • Biometric Services: $85 (for those aged between 14-78 years old)
      • Medical exam and vaccinations: costs will vary
      • Certified translations of necessary documents: costs will vary
      • USCIS immigrant fee: $220
      • Diversity Visa processing fee: $330 per person immigrating to the United States

      It should be noted that the USCIS immigrant fee will need to be paid as soon as the U.S. visa is approved to avoid any delays in the processing of your permanent resident card. If you do not pay the USCIS immigrant fee, your permanent resident card will not be processed.

      Green Card Lottery Scams

      It is important to keep in mind the following when applying for entry into the Diversity Visa Program:

      • Entry into the DV lottery is free
      • The Diversity Visa Program is run by the U.S. Department of State
      • The DV program does not notify entrants if they have been selected. Entrants can find out if they have been selected for a green card by checking their status online

      Beware of scams asking the applicant to pay any fees in order to enter into the Diversity Visa Program or any Green Card lotteries that are run by a government agency other than the U.S. Department of State. In addition, entrants will not receive email or telephone notifications that they won so beware of anyone notifying you otherwise by phone, email, or text message.

      mother and child

      How can IAS help me?

      If you have been selected as a green card lottery winner, we can help you best prepare for your green card application process. Whether you need someone to check that your documents are in order, help you prepare for your visa interview, or organize all of your family member applications attached, we can help guide you through all of the complicated processes and procedures.

      Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more about how our lawyers can help you settle in the United States as easily and stress-free as possible.

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      We can help you if you need help with your U.S. permanent residence application. Call us now

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