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Is Nigeria included in the visa lottery?

The visa lottery, also known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, is a program run by the U.S. Department of State that randomly selects applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to receive a green card. Only certain countries are eligible to participate each year. Whether or not Nigeria is included in the visa lottery depends on Nigeria’s eligibility in a given year.

What is the visa lottery program?

The visa lottery program makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Most visas go to applicants from Africa and Europe. Individuals from countries with high rates of immigration to the U.S. are not eligible to apply.

The visa lottery aims to diversify the immigrant population in the United States. Winners of the lottery are randomly selected by a computer from among all qualified entries. If selected, applicants can apply for permanent residence in the U.S., known as a green card. They can then live and work in the U.S. and apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting certain eligibility requirements.

Not all countries are eligible to participate in the visa lottery every year. The eligibility is determined based on the number of immigrant visas issued to natives of that country in the previous five years. If more than 50,000 immigrant visas were issued to natives of a country over the last 5 years, natives of that country are not eligible to apply for the current year’s visa lottery.

Is Nigeria usually eligible for the visa lottery?

Yes, Nigeria is usually eligible to participate in the visa lottery program. This is because the number of Nigerian immigrants to the U.S. is typically low enough that Nigeria does not exceed the 50,000 visa threshold that would make it ineligible.

Over the past decade, the number of immigrant visas issued to Nigerians has ranged between about 6,000-15,000 per year:

Fiscal Year Immigrant Visas Issued to Nigerians
2022 9,008
2021 13,973
2020 15,034
2019 13,364
2018 11,344
2017 9,529
2016 7,925
2015 9,528
2014 7,905
2013 6,324

As these numbers are well below 50,000, Nigeria typically remains eligible for the visa lottery program each year. The country has a large population size relative to the number of people who immigrate to the U.S., keeping Nigeria’s immigration levels low.

When has Nigeria been ineligible for the visa lottery?

Nigeria has been deemed ineligible for the visa lottery program in a couple of years over the past decade when immigration spiked above the 50,000 threshold.

In the fiscal years 2007 and 2008, Nigeria exceeded 50,000 immigrant visas issued and was thus ineligible for the 2009 visa lottery:

Fiscal Year Immigrant Visas Issued to Nigerians
2008 51,003
2007 51,121

This temporary surge put Nigeria over the limit, disqualifying it for the 2009 diversity visa lottery. After 2009, Nigeria’s immigration levels decreased again, and the country became eligible once more in subsequent years.

Is Nigeria eligible for the 2023 visa lottery?

Yes, Nigeria is eligible for the visa lottery program in 2023.

Based on the visa issuance data for the five fiscal years 2017-2021, Nigeria did not exceed 50,000 immigrant visas in any of those years:

Fiscal Year Immigrant Visas Issued to Nigerians
2021 13,973
2020 15,034
2019 13,364
2018 11,344
2017 9,529

The highest number was 15,034 in 2020, well short of the 50,000 cutoff. Therefore, the visa lottery eligibility requirements are satisfied and Nigerian nationals are permitted to enter the 2023 visa lottery.

Can Nigerians enter the visa lottery each year?

Nigerians cannot automatically expect that they will be eligible for every visa lottery year. As we’ve seen, immigration numbers can fluctuate year to year based on economic, political, and other factors.

The eligibility cutoffs are determined annually based on the latest available immigration statistics from the Department of Homeland Security. Each autumn, the registration period opens for the next year’s visa lottery. At that time, the complete list of eligible countries is published.

Nigerians hoping to enter the lottery should check each year to confirm Nigeria is on the eligible countries list for the upcoming lottery. Assuming immigration patterns remain steady, Nigeria is likely to be included most years. But a spike in immigration could disqualify it some years.

What are Nigeria’s chances of being selected in the visa lottery?

Nigeria typically has a moderately high number of applicants for the visa lottery program each year. In the 2021 lottery, over 1 million people from Nigeria submitted entries.

However, Nigeria’s chances of being drawn are modest compared to many other African nations. This is because selection is based on region, and Africa receives about 24% of the available diversity visas. In the 2021 lottery, only 3,762 Nigerians were selected out of the million applicants.

Some other African countries have higher selection rates. For example, in 2021 over 7,000 people from Ethiopia were selected, from a pool of less than 750,000 applicants. The small African nation of Gabon saw 549 winners selected from just over 4,000 applicants.

So while Nigerians can freely apply each year, the odds of being randomly chosen are quite slim – around 1 in 350 based on recent statistics. But Nigerians’ chances are still much higher than applicants from Europe or Asia, which receive smaller shares of the available visas.

Can winning the visa lottery for Nigeria lead to U.S. citizenship?

Yes, winning the diversity visa lottery can provide a path to U.S. citizenship for Nigerians.

If selected in the lottery, Nigerians are granted a green card immediately upon entering the United States. A green card allows permanent residence and the right to live and work anywhere in the country.

After 5 years of legal permanent residence, diversity visa immigrants can apply for naturalization to become U.S. citizens. The general requirements are:
– Have continuous residence in the U.S. for 5 years as a lawful permanent resident.
– Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous 60 months.
– Be able to speak, read, and write basic English.
– Pass the naturalization test on civics and U.S. history.
– Be of good moral character.

For diversity visa immigrants from Nigeria and other countries, the visa lottery provides an expedited route to citizenship within just 5 years. Other paths like family-based or employment-based immigration often involve much longer waiting periods before being eligible to become a U.S. citizen.

What are the education or work requirements for the visa lottery?

The diversity visa lottery program has minimal eligibility requirements compared to other U.S. immigration pathways. Applicants must have either:

– A high school education or its equivalent.


– Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.

The work experience option allows people without formal education to qualify based on their employment history. Almost any legal paid employment counts – there is no skills-based requirement or minimum salary level.

Additionally, spouses can claim their partner’s education or work experience to meet the requirements. So only one member of a married couple needs to have a high school degree or two years of work experience in order for both spouses to apply.

Overall, the education and work criteria are fairly broad for the visa lottery. This helps enable diversity and inclusion of immigrants from varying backgrounds.

Do I need to have relatives in the U.S. to apply for the visa lottery?

No family ties to the U.S. are required to enter the visa lottery. Applicants do not need relatives living in America in order to qualify and apply for the diversity visa program.

This makes the diversity visa unique, since most other immigration paths to the U.S. require a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. For example, U.S. citizens can sponsor certain family members through the family preference category.

The visa lottery was specifically designed to diversify the immigrant population in the U.S., so it does not preference applicants with existing family in America. Even if you have no relatives in the U.S., you can submit your entry provided you meet the education or work experience requirements and come from an eligible country like Nigeria.

Having family or friends in the U.S. can provide social support after immigrating. But it offers no advantage in the visa lottery selection process itself. Applicants are chosen at random by the computerized lottery system.

How can Nigerians increase their chances of winning the visa lottery?

Unfortunately, there is no way to significantly increase your odds of being chosen for the diversity visa lottery. Since selection is random, there is nothing applicants can do to boost their chances.

Basic steps like submitting your entry during the proper registration period and filling out the form accurately are important. But beyond that, no special strategies will help. Common visa lottery myths like early registration, multiple entries, and paying agents do not improve the likelihood of selection.

The two primary factors impacting lottery odds are:

1. The number of entries received from your country. More entries means stiffer competition within your country. Nigeria has a large number of applicants annually, lowering any single person’s odds of winning.

2. The regional visa limits. Africa only receives about 24% of diversity visas, so your chances are far lower than applicants from underrepresented regions like Europe.

With millions of global applicants each year and only 50,000 visas, the diversity visa lottery is a long shot for most people. But it remains the only immigration option offering Nigerians and other Africans the possibility of a green card without family ties, skills, or an employment offer in the U.S.

Is there an application fee to enter the visa lottery?

There is no fee charged by the U.S government to submit an entry in the diversity visa lottery. The online entry form is free to fill out and submit on the official government website during the registration period each year.

However, some third-party websites may charge fees for visa lottery services. Many companies offer to help prepare or submit your entry, or notify you of “winning.” Applicants should avoid such sites – they provide no advantage and are often fraudulent. Use only the official U.S. government site:

If selected in the lottery, there are fees associated with the later steps in the process:
– DV Visa Fee: $330 per person payable to the U.S. embassy upon visa interview.
– USCIS Immigrant Fee: $220 per person payable after visa issuance.

So while entering costs nothing, winners do have to pay certain fees as they complete the green card process. Cost should not be a deterrent to submitting your free entry each year you are eligible!

What are the steps to enter the visa lottery for Nigerians?

Nigerians hoping to enter the diversity visa lottery can follow these key steps:

1. Check the lottery instructions and eligible countries list published in the fall to confirm Nigeria is eligible for the upcoming year.

2. Access the electronic diversity visa entry form (DS-5501) online at during the registration period.

3. Fill out the form with your biographical details. Entries must include a recent digital photo meeting the specifications.

4. Submit your complete online DS-5501 entry. Print and save the confirmation page.

5. If selected, check your status using your confirmation number and complete the Steps to Apply for the visa.

6. Attend your visa interview at the U.S. embassy in Nigeria and complete required medical exams.

7. Immigrate to the U.S. once issued the diversity visa, and complete processing for your green card.

The lottery entry period typically runs from early October to early November each year, for the lottery held the following year. Nigerians can enter free of charge on the official U.S. website.

Can I still apply if I’m already in the U.S.?

You cannot apply for the diversity visa lottery if you are already legally residing in the United States. The program is designed for people who are not currently in the U.S. and seek to immigrate here.

So if you are currently on a visa such as an H-1B or F-1 student visa, or already have lawful permanent resident status, you are ineligible to enter the lottery. Only applicants living in Nigeria or another foreign country can qualify.

The rules do make a small exception for people legally studying or working in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa. If you have no intention of immigrating permanently to the U.S. and plan to return abroad after finishing your program, you may still enter. However, if you apply for an adjustment to permanent resident status, any existing diversity visa approval will be voided.

In general, the visa lottery is for people who are not U.S. citizens or green card holders and have not yet had the chance to immigrate through a family or employment visa category. People already lawfully residing here must use other paths to seek permanent status, not the diversity visa program.


In summary, Nigeria is normally eligible to participate in the U.S. diversity visa lottery program due to its historically low rate of immigration to America. Nigerians can check each year that the country remains included based on the latest visa statistics. While any single applicant’s odds of winning are modest, the lottery remains the most accessible visa option for Nigerians to potentially obtain a green card. By submitting a free online entry, Nigerians have the possibility of being randomly selected for this life-changing opportunity.