Each year, 55,000 immigrant visas (green cards) are made available through a lottery in which people who come to the United States from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration may participate.
The U.S. State Department holds the lottery, known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV), every year and chooses winners randomly from all qualified entries. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence (green card). If permanent residence is granted, the individual will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Successful participants will also be allowed to bring their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States as part of this process.
Information can be found on the DV lottery on the State Department's website at https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Diversity-Visa/DV-Instructions-Translations/DV-2023-Instructions-Translations/DV-2023-Instructions-English.pdf
Application Qualifications for the DV Lottery
Citizens from certain countries who have already sent more than 55,000 immigrants (green card holders) in the last five (5) years are excluded from participation. For DV-2023, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of more than 55,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five (5) years:
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Natives of Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.
Qualifying Occupations, Education and Experience
The law and regulations require that every DV entrant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or have, within the past five (5) years, two (2) years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two (2) years of training or experience. To learn more about qualifying occupations, see the Diversity Visa Instructions at https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Diversity-Visa/DV-Instructions-Translations/DV-2023-Instructions-Translations/DV-2023-Instructions-English.pdf
Procedure to Apply
Before each year's lottery drawing, the Department of State publishes instructions on how to apply (that appear in press releases and the Federal Register). Please follow all directions exactly or the filing will be rejected. Thousands of applicants are rejected each year for failure to follow the directions.
Entries for the DV-2023 program must be submitted electronically between 12:00 PM (noon) Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Wednesday, October 6, 2021, and 12:00 PM (noon) Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5) Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Applicants must submit entries for the DV-2023 program electronically at https://dvprogram.state.gov/.
Paper entries will not be accepted and duplicate entries are not allowed.
Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after 12:00 PM EST on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.
- A successfully registered entry will result in a confirmation screen containing the applicant's name and a unique confirmation number. The applicant must print this confirmation screen for their records using the print function of their web browser and must retain the confirmation number. Starting May 8, 2022, applicants will be able to check the status of their DV-2023 entry by returning to https://dvprogram.state.gov, clicking on Entrant Status Check and entering their unique confirmation number and personal information. Entrant Status Check will be the sole means of informing applicants of their selection for DV- 2023, and will provide instructions to applicants on how to proceed with their application, and notifying applicants of their appointment for their immigrant visa interview. Therefore, it is essential that applicants retain their confirmation number. The U.S. Department of State is unable to provide an entry confirmation number if it is lost.
How Much Does the Lottery Cost?
There is no fee for entering the DV lottery. If an applicant wins, s/he must pay a fee for an immigrant visa and a separate visa lottery surcharge.
Fraud Warning: Beware of Lottery Scams
Please Note: There have been instances of fraudulent websites posing as official U.S. Government sites. Some companies fraudulently posing as the U.S. Government have sought money in order to "complete" lottery entry forms. There is no charge to download and complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form. To learn more, see the Department of State Warning and the Federal Trade Commission Warning.
"Winning the Lottery" Is Only the First Step: You Must Act Quickly if Notified
The DOS selects more than 55,000 applicants as lottery "winners." Historically, winner letters are issued to more than 100,000 applicants. This is done in an effort to ensure that there will be 55,000 green card approvals under this system each year. Not everyone who receives the winner notification can qualify for a green card, due to procedural issues and educational and/or job requirements. Other winners will simply not take the additional steps needed to obtain their green cards.
There are detailed instructions regarding how to process for a green card based upon lottery selection. Individuals who are outside the United States must process for their immigrant visas at the appropriate U.S. consulates abroad.
Those who are within the United States will have the option of either an adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States or consular processing. It is necessary for the applicant to meet all standard legal requirements for either the adjustment of status or consular processing procedures in order to obtain a benefit based upon the lottery selection.
Do Not Assume You Will Receive Your Permanent Residence Through the Lottery; Pursue All Options
As the name implies, the lottery is simply a matter of luck. No one should rely on the DV program unless and until there is an approved green card in hand. It is permissible to enter the lottery even if one has initiated a different type of green card case. It is also possible to start or continue with family and/or employment-based green card case(s), while also participating in the DV lottery.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Most people enter the lottery without legal assistance. However, if selected, winners often need legal assistance to process their green card cases. The lottery operates under tight time constraints. It is important to file everything correctly, and to comply with various technical requirements within the proper timeframe. Thus, retaining a qualified immigration lawyer can be important for the consular processing or adjustment-of-status portion of the case. Every year, we help quite a few lucky individuals obtain their green cards through the DV lottery program.
The lottery is an option for a fortunate few from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, who can qualify for a significant immigration benefit by making a simple filing. The chances are slim, but there is no fee charged by the government for the initial entry, and there are 55,000 new permanent residents each year under this program.
If you have questions or you need help with lottery or other immigration related matters, please contact us.
Kathleen M. Peregoy is a highly accomplished immigration attorney and serves as Co-chair of Connell Foley's Corporate Immigration and Global Mobility practice. Prior to joining the firm, Kathleen was a partner at Dornbaum & ...
Neil Dornbaum, Co-chair of Connell Foley's Corporate Immigration and Global Mobility practice, is recognized as one of the most active and distinguished immigration attorneys in New Jersey. Prior to joining the firm, Neil was a ...