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Do DV Lottery winners need a sponsor?

The Diversity Visa (DV) lottery program, also known as the green card lottery, is a program run by the U.S. Department of State that allows people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for a green card. Each year, up to 55,000 green cards are available through the DV lottery. Winning the DV lottery does not automatically grant the winner a green card, there are additional steps required before they can immigrate to the U.S.

Do you need a financial sponsor for the DV lottery?

No, you do not need a financial sponsor to apply for the DV lottery. The application is free and can be submitted directly by the applicant online. Having a sponsor is not a requirement or consideration during the lottery selection process.

The sponsor requirement comes into play later, after you have won the lottery and are applying for the green card. All immigrant visa applicants need to show they will not become a “public charge” in the U.S., meaning they will not rely on government assistance for financial support. There are a few options to demonstrate this:

  • Show you have enough personal assets and income to support yourself and any family members immigrating with you.
  • Have a financial sponsor sign a Form I-134 Affidavit of Support agreeing to provide financial assistance if needed.
  • Submit a combination of personal assets/income and a sponsor’s Form I-134.

So in summary, you do not need a sponsor to enter or win the DV lottery, but you will likely need to have one to apply for your green card after being selected.

What are the financial requirements for DV lottery winners?

DV lottery winners need to meet certain financial requirements to be approved for a green card. These requirements are intended to show you will be self-sufficient and not depend on public benefits in the U.S.

The main requirements are:

  • Income: Your household income must be at least 125% of the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size.
  • Assets: You must have assets equal to at least five times the difference between your household income and the minimum income requirement.

For example, if the income requirement for your family is $30,000 based on the Poverty Guidelines, and your actual income is $20,000, you would need assets equal to at least 5 x ($30,000 – $20,000) = $50,000.

Assets that count include: cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate.

If you do not meet the income and asset requirements on your own, you will need a financial sponsor to sign Form I-134 and prove they have sufficient income/assets to support you if needed. The specific financial calculations required for the I-134 are complex.

What obligations does a DV lottery sponsor have?

A DV lottery financial sponsor signs Form I-134, Affidavit of Support. This is a legally binding contract with the U.S. government. The key obligations of the sponsor include:

  • Agreeing to provide financial support to the immigrant so they do not rely on government assistance programs.
  • Providing documentation of their own income and assets to prove they can support the immigrant.
  • Reimbursing any government agencies if the immigrant does end up receiving public benefits.
  • Continuing to provide support until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked for 10 years, or leaves the U.S permanently.

In addition to the I-134 contract, the sponsor may need to submit items like tax returns, bank statements, or proof of employment. The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Being a financial sponsor is a big responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The sponsor will be held accountable for keeping the immigrant from needing public benefits for potentially years into the future.

Can a relative or friend sponsor a DV lottery winner?

Yes, a relative or friend can sponsor a DV lottery winner as long as they meet the requirements. There are no limitations on who can be a sponsor such as only allowing family members. Anyone willing to accept the duties of a sponsor can potentially fill this role if they pass the financial thresholds.

Some common types of sponsors for DV lottery winners include:

  • Spouse – Married spouses already intending to combine finances can naturally sponsor each other.
  • Parent – A parent, especially if they are financially secure, may choose to sponsor an adult child.
  • Sibling – Brothers or sisters living in the U.S. often sponsor lottery winning siblings still overseas.
  • Child – A U.S. citizen child can act as a sponsor once they turn 21 and have sufficient income.
  • Other relative – Grandparents, aunts/uncles, or cousins may be willing to be sponsors.
  • Close friend – Friends, especially those with strong financial means, can also sponsor.

The key requirements are that the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or green card holder, and that they meet the income/asset thresholds to be able to adequately support the immigrant financially if needed.

What are the income requirements for a DV lottery sponsor?

The specific income and asset requirements for a DV lottery sponsor to complete Form I-134 are complex. In general, the sponsor must demonstrate income or assets that place them at least 125% above the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household size.

Several rules apply in determining the sponsor’s household size and financial position:

  • The sponsor’s household includes themselves, their spouse, any dependents, and the intending immigrant.
  • The sponsor must include their spouse’s income/assets even if the spouse is not signing the I-134.
  • Income from other household members is generally not included unless they also sign the I-134.
  • Only the sponsor’s assets count, not assets owned independently by other household members.

In addition to meeting 125% of poverty guidelines, the sponsor must have assets equal to at least five times the difference between their total household income and the minimum income requirement.

Due to this complexity, it is highly advisable for the potential sponsor to carefully review the I-134 instructions and fill out the form accurately to demonstrate their financial means to support the DV lottery winner.

How does getting a co-sponsor for the DV lottery work?

If a single sponsor cannot meet the income and asset requirements on their own, it is possible to have one or more joint sponsors who combine their finances to show collective capability to support the DV lottery winner. This is known as having a co-sponsor.

Here is how getting a co-sponsor works for the DV lottery:

  • The primary sponsor completes Form I-134 as normal.
  • The co-sponsor completes a separate Form I-134.
  • Both sponsors’ income and assets are combined to meet the requirements.
  • The co-sponsor must be eligible to be a sponsor and reside in the U.S.
  • Joint and several liability applies so co-sponsors are equally responsible.

Having a co-sponsor can significantly increase the chance of meeting income requirements compared to a single sponsor. But all sponsors accept full legal and financial responsibility until the immigrant receives citizenship or works for 10 years.

Are there disadvantages of having a joint sponsor for the DV lottery?

While using a joint sponsor can help meet financial requirements, there are some potential disadvantages to having a co-sponsor for the DV lottery compared to a single sponsor:

  • Both sponsors are equally liable until conditions end, complicating responsibility.
  • The immigrant must provide separate proof of relationship to both sponsors.
  • More paperwork is required to file two I-134 forms.
  • Sponsors’ finances and assets get intermingled during immigration review.
  • One co-sponsor cannot terminate responsibilities without consent of the other.

Additional complexities arise if the immigrant ends up receiving public benefits down the road. Government agencies must determine portions of liability between co-sponsors in order to recoup costs.

While often necessary if a single sponsor falls short of requirements, using a joint sponsor does add complexity compared to having one sponsor fully meet all needed financial thresholds.

What happens if a DV lottery sponsor withdraws support?

Form I-134 is a legally binding contract, so a DV lottery sponsor cannot easily withdraw their support. If a sponsor tries to withdraw Form I-134 after the immigrant has received a green card, it does not relieve them of responsibilities. They remain liable to reimburse government agencies if the immigrant receives public benefits.

A sponsor can only terminate the I-134 obligations in limited circumstances, such as:

  • The immigrant becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen.
  • The immigrant has worked for 10 years in the U.S.
  • The immigrant permanently departs the U.S.
  • The immigrant dies.

For a joint sponsor, the obligations can only end if the other co-sponsor agrees to assume full responsibility. Unilaterally withdrawing exposes the sponsor to continued liability until another termination condition is met.

In short, a DV lottery sponsor takes on long-term financial duties that cannot simply be revoked. This commitment to the immigrant’s well-being should be carefully considered beforehand when agreeing to submit an I-134.

Can a DV lottery winner immigrate without a sponsor?

It is possible for a DV lottery selectee to immigrate without having a sponsor, but they must prove they meet the income and asset requirements on their own.

To do this, when applying for the green card, the selectee would need to provide documentation like:

  • Bank statements proving cash assets.
  • Investment account statements.
  • Property deeds or assessments showing owned real estate.
  • Tax returns or pay stubs documenting ongoing income.

In addition, the winner’s household size and income must still meet at least 125% of the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines. Depending on the winner’s personal financial position, this may be difficult to achieve without a sponsor.

Some ways a DV selectee could potentially meet the requirements without a sponsor include:

  • Having a large amount of cash savings.
  • Owning a home or other property free and clear.
  • Possessing valuable assets like jewelry that could be sold.
  • Having a high personal income well above the guidelines.

Certainly it is much more challenging to immigrate through the DV lottery as a single person with no sponsor compared to having a sponsor. But if the selectee can document sufficient assets and income, it is possible to be approved without a sponsor signing Form I-134.

Can a DV lottery winner switch between sponsors?

It is generally possible for a DV lottery selectee to switch between sponsors, with a few limitations:

  • Can only switch sponsors between submitting initial DS-260 and visa interview.
  • The new sponsor must still meet all income and asset requirements.
  • Change requires filing a new I-134 and explaining reason for change.
  • The previous sponsor’s I-134 remains active until the visa is issued.

Reasons a selectee may need to switch sponsors include:

  • Original sponsor no longer qualifies due to change in finances.
  • Sponsor dies or withdraws support before visa issued.
  • Winner wants a preferred sponsor who was unavailable earlier.
  • Winner’s relationship with sponsor has deteriorated.

The key constraints are that changing sponsors can only happen after submitting the initial DS-260 but before the visa interview. The consular officer must also be convinced of the need for the change of sponsors.


Winning the DV lottery does not guarantee someone a green card – they must still prove they meet requirements like having sufficient income, assets, or a financial sponsor. While not mandatory, most selectees do need a sponsor to immigrate unless they have substantial personal assets and income. Finding an eligible and willing U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor is crucial to being approved for a DV visa.