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Is the passport requirement lifted for the green card lottery?

The green card lottery, also known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, is a U.S. government program that provides up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year to people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. The visas are distributed through a lottery system. Individuals who are selected in the lottery (“winners”) are eligible to apply for permanent residency (a green card).

Quick Answer

The passport requirement for the green card lottery has not been lifted or changed. All applicants for the green card lottery must have a valid, unexpired passport at the time of submitting the lottery application and at the time of the visa interview. This requirement applies to all applicants, including the primary applicant and any dependents.

Passport Requirement Details

The passport requirement for the green card lottery is outlined on the lottery instructions page on the U.S. State Department website. It states:

“You must provide the following documentation to establish eligibility for the Diversity Visa program:

  • Passport. Each applicant, including dependents, requires a passport valid for six months beyond the expiration date on the visa being applied for.

This requirement ensures that lottery winners have proper documentation to travel to the United States and apply for adjustment of status once they receive the diversity visa. The passport must also be valid for the entire visa processing timeline, which can take several months beyond the initial selection and notification period.

When a Passport is Required

A valid passport is required at two key points in the green card lottery process:

  1. Lottery Application – Applicants must provide passport information including number, expiration date, and country of issuance on the initial online lottery application form (DS-5501).
  2. Visa Interview – Lottery winners must bring a valid passport to the in-person visa interview at the U.S. consulate. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the expiration date of the diversity visa.

Why the Passport Requirement Exists

There are several important reasons why the passport requirement exists for the green card lottery:

  • To verify identity and nationality of applicants
  • To ensure applicants have proper travel documentation to enter the U.S.
  • To prevent visa fraud and misuse of diversity visas
  • To streamline the visa application and adjudication process

Overall, the passport requirement provides an added layer of security and protection for the green card lottery program.

Exceptions to the Passport Requirement

There are very few exceptions to the green card lottery passport requirement. The requirement may be waived only for applicants who can prove:

  • They were born in a country that did not issue birth certificates at the time of birth
  • They are stateless and unable to obtain a passport from their country of nationality or last residence

In these cases, alternate documents may be acceptable such as a combination of national ID documents, birth certificates, marriage certificates, military records, etc. However, waivers are very limited and reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Travel Documents Not Accepted

The following cannot be used in place of a passport for the green card lottery:

  • Driver’s license
  • National ID card
  • Birth certificate
  • Military ID
  • Travel documents like a re-entry permit/travel document

While these may be used to supplement a passport application, they are not acceptable substitutes during the visa process.

Consequences of Not Having a Valid Passport

Failure to provide a valid passport as required will lead to disqualification and denial at various stages of the green card lottery process, including:

  • Lottery Entry – Online applications without proper passport information will be disqualified and not entered in the random selection process.
  • Win Notification – Selection letters will not be issued to winners missing passport details during the registration period.
  • Visa Application – The visa application cannot be filed at the U.S. consulate without a valid passport.
  • Visa Interview – Applicants will not be allowed to complete their consular interview without a passport.

In summary, a valid passport is an absolute requirement for the green card lottery. Attempting to enter or continue through the process without one will result in a denied application.

Options if Passport Expires Before Interview

If your passport expires between the time of winning the green card lottery and your consular interview date, you must renew your passport in order to meet the visa requirements. Here are some options:

  • Renew your passport in time to have a valid one for the interview.
  • Reschedule your visa interview appointment to a later date when your renewed passport is available.
  • Contact the U.S. consulate to explain the situation and request an emergency appointment when the renewed passport is available.

You should initiate passport renewal proceedings as soon as you are notified of your green card lottery selection. This provides adequate time in case of any delays with the renewal processing. Some consulates may be willing to accommodate short validity passports within reason, but you should not rely on this.

Travel to a Third Country to Renew

Some applicants who are facing long renewal delays in their home country may choose to travel to a nearby third country to renew their passport more quickly. For example, those in Venezuela may travel to Colombia or Guyana. This can enable them to get a new passport in time for the visa interview.

However, this option depends on eligibility to enter the third country and has significant cost considerations for travel and lodging. It should only be considered if absolutely necessary to renew the passport in time for the immigrant visa process.

Maintaining a Valid Passport After the Visa Interview

It is also essential to maintain a valid passport after the diversity visa interview and through entrance into the United States. This is necessary in order to:

  • Receive the visa package andstamp from the consulate.
  • Travel to the U.S. port of entry toactivate residency status.

Your passport must remain valid for these post-interview steps which may occur several weeks or months after the interview. Renew it in advance if it will expire during this timeframe.

Travel Outside the U.S. Before Adjustment of Status

Diversity visa holders who wish to travel internationally after entering the U.S. must maintain a valid passport and receive Advance Parole from USCIS. Adjustment of status cannot be completed without a valid passport.


In summary, the passport requirement remains an fixed and essential component of the green card lottery application process. All applicants must have a valid passport at the time of lottery entry and interview, with very limited exceptions. Failure to comply with this requirement will lead to a denied application. Visa winners must be diligent about renewing their passports if they will expire before the visa activation process is complete. Maintaining a valid passport is crucial for diversity visa holders traveling internationally, both before and after entering the United States on their immigrant visa.

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More Details on Green Card Lottery Passport Requirements

Passport Number Format

When entering your passport number on the green card lottery application form, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Enter the number exactly as it appears in your passport, including any letters
  • Do not omit any zeros at the beginning of the number
  • There should be no spaces or punctuation entered

An error with the passport number format could lead to a rejected lottery entry. Double check that you have entered the number correctly before submitting the online form.

Passport Name Format

Your name should be entered on the lottery application form exactly as it appears in your passport. This includes:

  • Spelling – match the name spelling precisely
  • Spaces – only use spaces that are present in the passport name
  • Special characters – enter any diacritics or accents used in the name

If your name is too long, only enter the maximum number of characters allowed. Any name discrepancies between your passport and lottery entry could also cause delays or visa refusals down the line.

Country Specific Passport Validity Rules

Some U.S. consulates have additional validity rules beyond the 6 month minimum:

  • Bangladesh – Passport must be valid for 8 months beyond intended date of travel to U.S.
  • India – Passport must be valid for 8 months beyond intended date of travel to U.S.
  • Turkey – Passport must be valid for at least 150 days

Check with your specific consulate for any special requirements regarding length of passport validity.

Passport Renewal Wait Times

If you need to renew your passport, be aware that renewal processing times vary greatly by country. Some average renewal wait times include:

  • Canada – 10 business days
  • China – 7 business days
  • Ghana – 3-6 weeks
  • Kenya – 14 business days
  • Nepal – 7-14 days

Make sure to account for the passport renewal wait time in your country when planning for your green card visa interview.

Dual Citizenship Passport Requirements

If you hold dual citizenship, you may be subject to different passport validity rules depending on the country. Be sure to research both of your countries’ specific requirements for passport validity when applying for U.S. immigrant visas.

Lost or Stolen Passport Replacement

If your valid passport is lost or stolen after submitting your green card lottery entry, you will need to apply for a replacement passport prior to the visa interview. Make sure to bring the replacement passport and a police report documenting the loss/theft to your interview.

Damaged Passport Replacement

If your passport gets damaged or needs to be replaced due to deterioration, wear and tear, or pages filling up, be sure to obtain a new passport book prior to the visa interview. The consulate requires an undamaged passport in good, usable condition.

More about the Diversity Visa Program

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program makes 50,000 diversity visas available each fiscal year. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number going to regions with lower rates of immigration. Within each region, no single country may receive more than 7% of the available diversity visas.

Diversity Visa Lottery Process

Individuals enter the diversity visa lottery by submitting an online entry form through the official government website. Lottery winners are selected at random by computer and notified of their selection by letter. Those selected undergo application processing and an interview before being issued a visa.

Diversity Visa Eligibility

Eligibility for the diversity visa lottery depends primarily on the applicant’s country of birth/nationality. Other requirements include:

  • High school education or equivalent work experience
  • No criminal convictions
  • Meeting photographic requirements

Applicants must also demonstrate they will not become a public charge in the U.S. based on factors like income, health, education, and family size.

Following to Join

Spouses and children under 21 years of age may apply for following-to-join benefits if they did not already apply as derivatives on the original diversity visa case. However, follow-to-join petitions must be initiated and approved before the expiration of the original diversity visa.

Diversity Visa Statistics

Some statistics on the diversity visa program:

  • Over 19 million applications were received for DV-2023
  • 55,000 diversity visas were issued for DV-2021
  • The largest number of visas went to Africa (24,900) and Europe (21,000) for DV-2021

The popularity of the program leads to millions of applications each year even though only 50,000 visas maximum are available. Having the proper passport is key to standing out in the substantial pool of applicants.


A valid passport remains an essential requirement throughout the green card lottery process, with no exceptions. Applicants must diligently maintain and renew their passports as needed to comply with requirements at all stages. Failure to present a valid passport will lead to disqualification and denial of the diversity visa application. All green card lottery entrants and beneficiaries should fully understand the passport rules to maximize their chance of success in the program.