Diversity Visa Program Lottery

One route to obtaining U.S. permanent residence is through selection in the annual Diversity Visa (“DV”) lottery program.  The DV lottery is intended for immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. in the previous five years.

  • The DV lottery is administered by the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”). The DOS distributes the diversity visas among six (6) geographic regions and allocates them so that no country receives more than 7 % of the available diversity visas.
  • Every fiscal year a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas are available.
  • Every year the DOS publishes the list of eligible countries for the diversity visa program.
Basic Requirements:
  • Applicant must be born in a country whose natives are eligible for a diversity visa.
    • However, if an applicant is born in a country whose natives are ineligible for a diversity visa, applicant could:
      • claim his/her spouse’s country of birth as long as the applicant’s spouse is included on applicant’s diversity visa entry, and natives of the spouse’s country are eligible for the Diversity Visa Program or
      • claim one of his/her parent’s country of birth, provided that his/her parents were not born in the applicant’s country of birth nor were they legally residents of that country at the time of the applicant’s birth.
  • Applicants must meet an education/work experience requirement.
    • To meet the education requirement, applicants must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, which means successful completion of a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary school.
    • To meet the work experience requirement, the applicant must have two (2) years of work experience within the past five (5) years in an occupation that requires at least two (2) years of training or experience to perform. To determine qualifying work experience, the DOS uses the Department of Labor’s O*Net database.
  • Applicants must register for the diversity program during the annual filing period, as published on the DOS’s website.
Dependent Family Members:
  • Dependents, including legal spouses and children under 21 years of age, are eligible to immigrate with the applicant through the diversity program.
  • Once the registration period begins, the applicant must submit an entry form to the Diversity Visa Program.
    • All entries must be submitted electronically.
    • To avoid disqualification, applicants must provide all information required for completing an entry form.
    • Once the entry is submitted, the applicant will receive a confirmation number.
  • The applicant may only submit one entry per year or else be disqualified from participation.
    • Spouses can also make a single separate entry if qualified.
  • The selection of applicants is based on the available visas for each region and country. The DOS uses a computer program to select applicants from among qualified entries randomly.
  • To see whether the entry has been selected, applicants must go to the Entrant Status Check available on the Electronic Diversity Visa website. (https://dvprogram.state.gov/)  Selected applicant will then need to monitor the DOS’s monthly Visa Bulletin to determine whether they can complete the green card process based on the rankings published there.
    • The Entrant Status Check is the only way by which the DOS notifies applicants of their selection (or non-selection).
  • If the selected applicant is already in the U.S., s/he may be eligible to adjust status to obtain permanent residence. Otherwise, s/he may consular process.