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Is registration for green card lottery free?

The green card lottery, officially known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, is a program run by the U.S. State Department that provides up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Participants in the lottery are randomly selected and if chosen, they have the opportunity to apply for permanent resident status (a green card).

Is there a fee to register for the green card lottery?

No, there is no fee charged by the U.S. government to enter the green card lottery. The Diversity Visa program registration is completely free. The U.S. State Department runs the official online registration for the lottery at This is the only legitimate government website to register for the green card lottery. Any other websites charging a fee for DV registration services are unauthorized and should be avoided.

Some key points on the registration fee:

  • The official lottery registration through the government website does not charge any fee at the time of submitting the online application or later if selected.
  • You should not have to pay anyone money or provide any private information to enter the green card lottery.
  • There are many fraudulent websites and services that may charge a fee and claim they can increase someone’s chances of being selected for a diversity visa. These scams should be avoided.
  • The lottery uses a completely random selection process that cannot be influenced or improved in any way by paying money or using any special services.

In summary, no payment or fee is required at any point in the official diversity visa registration and application process. The green card lottery registration is completely free. Beware of any sites or services asking for money related to the lottery.

When does registration occur each year?

The registration period for the diversity visa lottery opens in early October and runs for approximately one month, closing in early November each year. The exact dates vary slightly year to year.

For example, the registration period for the 2023 green card lottery opened on October 6, 2021 and closed on November 9, 2021. The registration period typically opens on the first Wednesday in October and closes on the first Tuesday in November.

Some key dates and deadlines for the DV lottery registration:

  • Early October – Online registration opens and people can submit applications.
  • Early November – Registration closes. This deadline is strictly enforced.
  • May – Lottery entrants are selected at random and notified if they won a spot to apply for a green card.
  • September – The fiscal year officially opens and winners can start their visa application process.

The green card lottery registration window is very short, lasting about 4 weeks. It is important to register as early as possible once the registration website opens in October. There is no advantage to waiting to register closer to the November deadline.

Who is eligible to apply for the green card lottery?

There are a few basic requirements in order to be eligible for the diversity visa lottery:

  • Native of an eligible country – You must have been born in an eligible country, or have a spouse or parents born in one of the qualifying countries.
  • Education/work experience – You must have a high school education or equivalent, or two years of recent work experience in certain occupations.
  • No disqualifying factors – You must have no criminal record, health issues, or other factors that make you inadmissible to the United States.

Some key points on green card lottery eligibility:

  • The list of eligible birth countries changes each year based on immigration rates over the prior five years. Higher immigration countries become ineligible.
  • If married, your spouse’s country of birth can qualify you. Same for countries of birth of your parents in some cases.
  • Education in the U.S. or abroad qualifies. Equivalent work experience in select occupations can also qualify.
  • Factors like criminal history, health issues, or immigration visa overstays can disqualify you.

In summary, eligibility involves your country of birth, education/work background, and other factors. The lottery instructions provide the full details on qualifying for the diversity visa registration.

How are winners randomly selected?

The diversity visa lottery uses a computer-generated random selection process to pick winners. Those selected in the lottery are chosen purely by chance.

Some key details on how the green card lottery selection works:

  • After the registration period closes, the lottery computer randomly assigns a number to each applicant.
  • The applicants are then ranked based on the randomly assigned numbers.
  • The lowest ranked applicants are selected first until all available diversity visas are issued.
  • The random selection uses the lottery rank number assigned to each applicant, no other factors.
  • Around 100,000 applicants are selected each year through the random computer drawing.

The lottery selection process is designed to be completely random and geographically diverse. It does not consider an applicant’s country, skills, education, or other factors. All qualified entries have an equal chance of being chosen.

How are winners notified?

Applicants who are selected as winners in the green card lottery are notified in early May following the registration period. All notifications are done online.

The key details on green card lottery winner notification:

  • Winners are contacted in May about one year before the actual immigrant visa would be issued.
  • An online status check on the registration site shows if you have been selected.
  • An official selection letter is also sent online through the Entrant Status Check system.
  • No paper letters are sent notifying winners. All notification is done electronically.
  • Check the status site for notification using your unique lottery confirmation number.

It is important to keep your confirmation number and check online in May after the lottery finishes. The registration site is the only official source for checking if you won a green card through the lottery.

What documents and information are required if selected?

If selected in the green card lottery, you will need to submit supporting documents to formally apply for the immigrant visa. Required information includes:

  • Birth certificate showing eligible country of birth
  • Marriage and birth certificates for dependents
  • Passports for yourself and dependents
  • Education or work experience documentation
  • Police certificates showing you have no criminal record
  • Court records for any past issues like arrests, convictions, or bankruptcy

You may also need to provide:

  • Proof you will not become a public charge in the U.S.
  • Medical examination records
  • Military records if previously served
  • Name and address history
  • Photos of yourself and family members

As part of the visa application process, you will be interviewed at a consular office and asked to provide the needed documents. Having properly translated, certified copies of all important records will help support your visa application.

What are the steps after being selected as a winner?

If you are selected in the green card lottery, there are a number of important steps to complete the immigrant visa application process:

  1. Confirm selection online and review next steps
  2. Submit the DV entry confirmation form
  3. Start gathering all required documents
  4. Complete the immigrant visa forms
  5. Pay all required visa processing fees
  6. Attend a visa interview at the U.S. consulate
  7. Obtain a medical exam by an approved doctor
  8. Receive final approval and your diversity visa package
  9. Enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident

The visa application process takes up to eight months after you are first notified as a lottery winner. You will work with the relevant consular office to complete all steps and get your green card.

How long is the green card valid for?

Green cards issued through the diversity visa lottery program are valid permanently. Winners receive legal permanent resident status that does not expire.

Key points on green card validity include:

  • Diversity visa lottery green cards do not need to be renewed. Once issued, the card is valid for life.
  • You become a lawful permanent resident with the rights and responsibilities that status provides.
  • You can live and work permanently anywhere in the United States.
  • You can apply for U.S. citizenship once residency requirements are met.

It is important to protect permanent resident status by not remaining outside the U.S. for long periods. But the diversity visa green card itself does not expire and lasts your entire lifetime.

Can winning applicants bring family members?

Yes, winners of the diversity visa lottery can bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old. They can apply for immigrant visas along with the primary applicant.

Some key points about bringing family members:

  • A spouse and children can apply for green cards even if they were not originally included on the lottery entry form.
  • Children must be unmarried and under 21 when the visa paperwork is submitted.
  • Dependent family members must show they will not become public charges if admitted.
  • Family members can be in different countries when applying for their visas.

Including a spouse and eligible children on your visa application does not negatively impact your chances of approval. Family members can provide significant help with settlement in the U.S.

How many lottery winners actually receive green cards?

Each year around 100,000 applicants are selected through the diversity visa lottery. However, not all winners end up obtaining green cards. Typically around half of selectees complete the process by getting immigrant visas.

Some statistics on green cards issued to lottery winners:

  • Around 50,000 diversity visas are normally issued annually
  • Over 200,000 applicants may be selected to account for dropouts
  • Only around 25-30% of lottery winners complete the process
  • Top reasons for dropout are incomplete applications and problems at the interview stage

Millions enter the green card lottery each year but only a fraction of selectees complete the process. Having your documentation ready and being thoroughly prepared is key to making it through the visa process successfully.

What disqualifies someone from being issued a diversity visa?

There are a number of issues that can disqualify someone from obtaining a green card through the diversity visa program. Common disqualifying factors include:

  • Providing false or fraudulent information on the lottery entry or visa application.
  • Criminal convictions or other security issues.
  • Health problems such as communicable diseases.
  • Previous immigration violations like overstaying visas.
  • Being unable to show you will not become a public charge.

Some other factors that can disqualify you:

  • Getting married during the process and your spouse is not eligible.
  • Turning 21 years old during the process if listed as a child.
  • Failing to meet education or work experience requirements.
  • Not having all required documentation.
  • Inability to pass background checks and clearances.

Any issues found during the registration, application, or interview process may disqualify you from receiving a diversity visa. It is important to carefully follow all requirements.


The green card lottery registration process is free and open to applicants from eligible countries with the proper education or work background. Winners are randomly selected by computer and notified online the following May. If selected, you must complete numerous steps to complete visa processing and obtain permanent resident status.

While millions register each year, about half of selectees ultimately receive diversity visas. Winners have to carefully meet all requirements and overcome hurdles like document submission and interviews. Avoiding problems like fraud, criminal records, and health issues is key to successfully obtaining the green card.