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Why is DV lottery rejected?

The Diversity Visa (DV) lottery, also known as the green card lottery, is a program run by the U.S. State Department that offers up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Millions of people around the world enter the lottery each year for a chance to win a green card, but many applicants end up having their entries rejected for reasons ranging from simple mistakes to more complex eligibility issues.

Common Reasons for DV Lottery Rejection

There are a few key reasons why a DV lottery entry may be deemed invalid and rejected by the State Department:

  • Submitting more than one entry – Each person can only submit one entry per lottery year. Duplicate or multiple entries will all be disqualified.
  • Missing or incorrect information – Any missing or inaccurate information like name, birth date, photograph, signature, etc. will lead to a rejected entry. Photos must meet size and formatting requirements.
  • Unqualified country of eligibility – The entrant’s country of birth must be an eligible low-immigration country for DV lottery purposes. Check the list of eligible nationalities before applying.
  • Education/work experience issues – Not meeting the minimum education or work experience requirements will disqualify an entry. The requirements are having a high school education or equivalent or having two years of qualifying work experience.
  • Fraudulent entry – Attempts at fraud, such as submitting false documents or information, using stolen photos, or applying on behalf of someone else will cause an entry to be rejected and disqualified.

In addition to these common mistakes, there are other technical reasons an entry may get rejected. The online entry form has strict instructions and specifications that must be followed precisely to avoid rejection. Even small mistakes like using the wrong file format for a photo or signature can invalidate an entry.

Education and Work Experience Requirements

As mentioned above, to qualify for the diversity visa lottery, applicants must meet minimum education or work experience requirements set by the U.S. government. Specifically, applicants must have either:

  • A high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR
  • Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

The U.S. government uses these requirements to ensure that diversity visa immigrants will be able to support themselves once they arrive in the country. The education or work experience benchmarks demonstrate that the applicants have knowledge and skills to obtain further training and jobs in America.

Applicants must provide documents validating their education or work experience, such as diplomas, transcripts, or letters from employers. If proper documentation is not submitted at the time of the visa interview, or if the documentation is found to be fraudulent, the applicant may be rejected on these grounds.

Photo Requirements and Mistakes

The photograph submitted with a diversity visa lottery entry must adhere to very specific technical guidelines in order to be accepted. Even small deviations from the requirements can lead to a disqualification of the application. Some common photo mistakes include:

  • Incorrect dimensions – The photo must be exactly 600 pixels by 600 pixels in size. Any other dimensions will be rejected.
  • Wrong file format – Only JPEG images are accepted. Photos in formats like PNG, TIFF, or BMP will result in rejection.
  • Poor image quality – The photo must have good clarity and be taken against a plain white or off-white background. Dark, blurry, or grainy photos do not meet standards.
  • Incorrect framing – The applicant’s face must take up 70-80% of the photo area. Photos cropped too tightly or showing too much background do not qualify.
  • Headwear – Except for religious reasons, photos must show the applicant’s full face with no hats, headscarves or other head coverings.
  • Glasses – Eyeglasses cannot have tinted lenses and the frames cannot cover or obscure the eyes.

Because diversity visa photo requirements are very strict, it is recommended to have a professional photographer take the picture. Many applications are rejected simply due to small technical issues with the submitted digital photo. Taking care to follow all published instructions can help applicants avoid photo-related rejections.

Fraudulent Entries

Submitting fraudulent information or documents on a diversity visa application is grounds for immediate and permanent rejection. Some examples of fraudulent activities that applicants engage in include:

  • Falsifying names, dates of birth, or other biographical data
  • Using someone else’s photo that does not represent the actual applicant
  • Stealing photos from websites to use as the entry photo
  • Providing fake credentials like diplomas or employment letters
  • Lying about country of birth or eligibility criteria
  • Entering on behalf of another person who would be ineligible
  • Using a false identity or alias to enter multiple times

The diversity visa lottery entry form explicitly warns against fraud and states that any attempted fraud will lead to permanent ineligibility for the applicant. All application materials undergo scrutiny to detect any inconsistencies, falsehoods, or anything that raises red flags for fraud.

In addition to rejection, those caught engaging in fraudulent activities may face legal prosecution, including potential criminal charges and financial penalties for visa fraud. Law enforcement authorities are also notified in applicable fraud cases.

Ineligible Country of Birth

The diversity visa lottery is designed specifically for people born in countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S. Each year, countries are designated as either eligible or ineligible based on immigration levels over the prior five years. The U.S. government calculates immigration rates and excludes countries that had more than 50,000 immigrants to America in the past five years.

As a result, people born in countries like Mexico, China, Philippines, Canada, India, and others that send large numbers of immigrants to the U.S. are not eligible to enter the diversity visa lottery. Applicants must be born in an eligible country in order to qualify and enter. If an applicant lists an ineligible country of birth on their application, it will be rejected.

There are also some countries like Iran and Sudan that cannot participate in the lottery due to other U.S. sanctions and immigration restrictions. The complete list of eligible nationalities is published each year prior to the opening of the diversity visa lottery registration period.

Duplicate or Multiple Entries

One of the most common reasons for rejection from the diversity visa lottery is when applicants submit more than one entry. U.S. immigration law explicitly prohibits duplicate or multiple entries from the same applicant in a single fiscal year’s lottery.

If a person submits multiple entries using the same name and birth information, all of their entries will be disqualified once the duplication is caught during processing after the lottery selection. Similarly, if a husband and wife each submit separate entries, both will be rejected for being duplicates.

The online lottery entry form requires applicants to confirm they have not submitted multiple entries. There are also fraud detection measures in place to catch duplicate applications using the same photos or documents. Intentional or unintentional duplicate/multiple submissions account for a significant percentage of rejections each year.

What Happens After Rejection?

Applicants who are rejected from the diversity visa lottery are notified of their rejection through the official online Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website. Typically, rejection notifications are sent out several months after the lottery entry period closes in November each year.

Unfortunately, there is no appeal process to contest a diversity visa rejection. The consular officers make final determinations of eligibility based on U.S. immigration law requirements. However, applicants who are rejected may enter future lotteries if they correct the issues that resulted in their rejection.

Common questions asked after being rejected include:

  • Can I appeal my rejection? No, there is no option to appeal or review a rejection decision.
  • If I was rejected this year, can I apply again in the future? Yes, you can enter again in the next fiscal year’s lottery if you meet all eligibility requirements.
  • How long after rejection until I can reapply? You only have to wait until the next diversity visa lottery registration opens, usually in October.
  • Will my rejection affect other U.S. visa applications? No, a diversity visa rejection does not impact other types of U.S. visa applications.

While rejection from the lottery results in disappointment for many applicants, the good news is that you can enter again in the following year provided that you meet the eligibility criteria and submit a valid entry.

Avoiding Rejection

Many rejections can be avoided by being informed about the diversity visa requirements and carefully following all instructions for the online application form. Here are some tips for applying to increase your chances of success:

  • Read all instructions thoroughly multiple times before starting your application
  • Check you meet the education or work experience requirements
  • Verify your country of birth is on the eligible nationalities list
  • Use a high quality professional photo that meets all technical specifications
  • Double check all entered information matches your documents
  • Make sure you qualify before submitting an entry
  • Keep copies of your application and confirmation number

Putting care into your application helps minimize errors and omissions that could lead to rejection. Although winning the lottery does come down to some degree of chance, having a valid error-free entry maximizes your shot at being selected.

Statistics on DV Lottery Rejection Rates

Each year millions of diversity visa lottery entries are received from around the world during the registration period from October to December. Among this large applicant pool, only approximately 100,000 applicants are selected through the randomized computer drawing.

This means the odds of winning the diversity lottery are very low, currently around 1-2% or less depending on the number of entrants in a particular year. Put another way, the rejection rate for lottery applications is 98-99%.

Some key diversity visa lottery rejection statistics include:

  • Up to 15 million entries received annually
  • 55,000 diversity visas available each year
  • 100,000 selectees notified (55k visas + 45k on reserve list)
  • 1-2% selection rate for most nationalities
  • 98-99% rejection/disqualification rate overall

The high rejection percentage is simply due to the overwhelming amount of interest combined with the strict quota limits for diversity visas. While frustrating for applicants, this randomized selection process is designed to provide equal opportunity for people from all eligible countries.

Developing a better understanding of the complex DV lottery requirements and avoiding common mistakes can help improve your chances of being in that small fraction of entries that get selected each year.


The U.S. diversity visa lottery gives people around the world a chance to obtain permanent residency, but millions of applicants face rejection each year. From minor photo and paperwork issues to more fundamental factors like country ineligibility, there are many different reasons an entry may be deemed invalid.

Learning the technical specifications for photos, avoiding duplicate submissions, and verifying education/work credentials can help reduce avoidable rejections. While the odds are low, putting care and effort into properly completing your entry gives you the best shot at overcoming the high rejection rates and winning this life-changing opportunity.

Rejection Reason Details How to Avoid
Multiple/duplicate entries Submitting more than one entry per person will lead to disqualification Carefully follow rules allowing only one entry per person
Incorrect photo Wrong size, framing, background, format, or quality standards Use a professional photo service to meet requirements
Ineligible country of birth Applicant must be born in a qualified low-admission country Check list of eligible nationalities before applying
Fraudulent information Fake documents, stolen photos, inaccurate data, lies about eligibility Provide truthful and accurate information only
Insufficient education/work experience Must meet minimum requirements set by the U.S. government Confirm you meet education or work qualifications
Errors in forms and technical requirements Strict instructions must be followed precisely Read all directions carefully and double check your entry