The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, also known as the green card lottery, is a United States government lottery program that makes 55,000 permanent resident visas available annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
What is the DV Lottery program?
The Diversity Immigrant Visa program, also known as the green card lottery, is a United States government lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. The Immigration Act of 1990 established the current and permanent Diversity Visa program.
The lottery aims to diversify the immigrant population in the United States by granting immigrant visas to underrepresented nations. Citizens of countries with higher immigration rates to the U.S. over the past five years are not qualified to participate. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a maximum of seven percent available to persons born in any single country.
How the DV Lottery program works
The DV Lottery program makes 55,000 diversity visas available annually drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Applicants enter by registering and submitting an application via the online entry form known as E-DV Entry Form or DS-5501.
There is no cost to register for the lottery. Applicants are selected at random by computer-generated drawing from among qualified entries. Those selected in the random drawings are notified by mail and provided further instructions on documentation requirements, eligibility verification, and details on immigrant visa procedures.
Eligibility for the DV Lottery
There are strict eligibility requirements to enter the DV Lottery:[
- Native of country with low immigration rate to U.S.
- High school education or equivalent work experience
- No record of certain criminal activities
- Qualifying work experience of 2+ years in last 5 years
]Candidates for the lottery must have been born in an eligible country. Country eligibility is determined by immigration rates in the past five years with high immigration countries excluded. Education and work experience requirements must also be met.
When is the DV Lottery application period?
There is a short application period each year for the DV Lottery. The entry period opens in early October and runs for 60 days, closing in early November for the following year’s visa issuance.
Online registration is available annually starting in early October and ends in early November, allowing a 60 day period. The entry period for submitting applications is about two months every year. The exact dates are announced through the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin.
Key DV Lottery application period dates
- October – Application period opens, entries accepted
- November – Application period closes
- May – Lottery results announced, selectees notified
It is important to get entries submitted during the 60 day window because there are no extensions or exceptions. The winners are randomly chosen by computer from all qualified entries at the end of the registration period.
What are the steps to apply for the DV Lottery?
Applying for the diversity visa lottery involves understanding eligibility, submitting an online entry, and awaiting results. Here are the key steps in the DV lottery process:
- Check eligibility for the program
- Submit online entry form when registration opens
- Provide required information including photo
- If selected, return confirmation materials promptly
- Begin visa application and interview process
The first step is to determine if you are eligible based on country, education, and work experience requirements. Once the entry period opens, you can submit the online form with required information. If you win, you must quickly return confirmation documents to proceed.
Tips for applying for the DV Lottery
- Learn eligibility rules to ensure qualified entry
- Provide accurate info including education, work history
- Follow photo requirements and formatting
- Submit entry in first week of registration period
- Notify KCC if contact info changes after entry
It is essential to provide complete and accurate information meeting all eligibility criteria on the E-DV electronic entry form. Following instructions for the required digital photo is also important. Submitting early, in the first week, is recommended since heavy demand can overload the system.
What are the benefits of winning the DV Lottery?
There are significant benefits granted by the diversity visa lottery program. Winning the lottery provides the chance to obtain permanent resident status and eventually U.S. citizenship.
The key benefits of winning the green card lottery include:
- Opportunity to immigrate to United States
- Chance to live and work in America permanently
- Diversity visa leading to lawful permanent resident status
- Ability to sponsor family members to immigrate
- Pathway to U.S. citizenship after meeting requirements
The green card lottery provides one of the best opportunities for immigration to America from countries that have had low levels of migration. Winning the lottery serves as a life-changing event for both the selectee and their family members.
Benefits of U.S. permanent residence
Here are some of the key benefits that come with receiving permanent resident status through the DV Lottery program:
- Live and work anywhere in the United States
- Apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years
- Protection under U.S. laws
- Travel freely in and out of the country
- Ability to sponsor green cards for family
- Access to educational and healthcare benefits
Gaining permanent resident status provides extensive benefits and dramatically improves quality of life for millions hoping to make America their new home.
What are the odds of winning the DV Lottery?
The odds of winning the diversity visa lottery depend on the number of entries received each year relative to the available 55,000 green cards. The odds have ranged between 0.5% and 5% in recent years.
Here is an overview of the odds of winning the DV Lottery in recent years:
|Odds of Winning
As you can see from the table, the odds of winning range from 0.2% to 0.5% in recent years. The chances depend on the total entries received, with more entries decreasing the odds of selection.
Factors impacting chances of winning
There are a few key factors that impact someone’s probability of being picked as a diversity visa winner:
- Number of entries submitted – can submit only one entry
- Number of qualifying entries overall
- Region of the world the applicant is from
- Country limitations excluding high admission countries
- Random nature of selection process
While winning is a long shot for most people, the lucky few selected by the computer random drawing can profoundly transform their lives through immigration.
What are the requirements after winning the DV Lottery?
There are a number of steps and requirements after winning the diversity visa lottery to complete the immigration process successfully.
Key requirements include:
- Submitting DS-260 visa application
- Attending visa interview at U.S. consulate
- Providing police certificates showing no criminal record
- Passing medical examination
- Proving education or work experience credentials
- Paying required visa processing fees
Winning lottery entrants must meet eligibility requirements, complete visa paperwork, pass interviews and medical tests, and validate qualifications in order to obtain approval for U.S. permanent residency.
Tips for meeting requirements after selection
- Check DV lottery website for instructions frequently
- Submit DS-260 and pay fees promptly
- Start collecting required civil documents right away
- Make sure passports are valid for travel
- Attend medical exam and visa interview early
Staying on top of next steps, deadlines, and requirements is essential after winning the lottery. U.S. immigrant visas are limited, so delays can risk losing the chance for green card approval.
How long is the visa process after winning the lottery?
The immigrant visa process timeline after winning the diversity lottery is generally 9 to 12 months. There are a number of steps required that add time to the green card approval process.
The key stages include:
- Notification of lottery selection (May)
- Submitting DS-260 visa application (2 months)
- Collecting civil documents (2-4 months)
- Arranging medical examination (1-2 months)
- Attending visa interview (2-3 months)
- Receiving immigration visa (1 month)
Because of the number of steps involved, the process takes about a year after winning the lottery to complete. Processing times can also vary based on applicant readiness and demand at consulates.
Ways to speed up the green card process
There are a few tips that can help reduce the time it takes to obtain the green card after selection:
- Submit DS-260 and pay fees immediately
- Gather required documents as quickly as possible
- Schedule and complete medical exam early
- Book visa interview appointment date in advance
- Ensure no issues arise requiring additional processing
Staying organized, submitting forms promptly, and front-loading requirements allows the process to be completed faster.
Can winning the DV Lottery be transferred to someone else?
No, winning the diversity visa lottery selection cannot be transferred or sold to another person. The person submitting the original entry must be the one to apply for the green card.
U.S. law prohibits selling green card lottery selection results. Attempting to sell or transfer the diversity visa selection is considered visa fraud.
The individual randomly chosen as the lottery winner in the computer drawing is the only person eligible to receive a visa. Derivative visas are available for spouses and children under 21.
Reasons selection results cannot be transferred
- DV lottery selection is non-transferable per U.S. law
- Selling green cards is considered visa fraud
- Entry requirements are specific to the individual applicant
- Photos and biometrics prevent visa transfer
The non-transferable nature of winning lottery results helps preserve the integrity of the program and prevents fraud. The selected person must follow through with the visa process.
What disqualifies someone from being selected in the lottery?
There are a number of factors that can disqualify an applicant from being selected for a diversity visa through the lottery program.
Common disqualifying factors include:
- Submitting more than one entry
- Birth country is excluded as high admission
- Education and work history fails eligibility
- Incomplete entry form or errors
- Fraudulent documents or information
- Serious medical condition
- Serious criminal convictions
Any issues with eligibility requirements, duplicate entries, fraudulent details, criminal history, or health problems identified during processing can lead to disqualification.
Examples of reasons for disqualification
- Submitting multiple entries – only allows one entry per person
- Lying about education history on application
- Failing to disclose criminal record or prior deportation
- Being diagnosed with a communicable disease
- Photos not meeting submission requirements
Ensuring all eligibility criteria are met, application is accurate, and requirements are fulfilled ensures there are no surprises that could disqualify your entry.
What happens if you get denied for the DV Lottery green card?
Getting denied for a diversity visa after winning the green card lottery results in losing the immigration opportunity. However, there may be options to appeal or reapply.
If denied a diversity visa, potential next steps include:
- Filing an appeal if denial is incorrect
- Reentering the lottery in future years
- Exploring other paths to U.S. immigration
While denial is devastating after winning the lottery, it is not necessarily the end if the decision was incorrect or circumstances change in the future.
Reasons for denial of DV lottery visa
Here are some of the common reasons diversity visa applications are denied:
- Fraud or misrepresentation
- Criminal or security ineligibility
- Medical issue
- Failure to meet education or work criteria
- Never completing visa processing steps
Applicants should thoroughly review requirements and ensure eligibility to reduce chances of denial.
Winning the green card lottery provides life-changing opportunities. However, understanding the program requirements, odds of selection, processing steps, and eligibility criteria is important for participants.
While winning the DV lottery is a long shot, it remains a dream for millions hoping to immigrate. Carefully applying increases chances of success and achieving the ultimate American dream.