What is the Green Card Lottery? Who Can Apply?

What is the Green Card Lottery? Who Can Apply?

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The Green Card lottery, officially DV Lottery, is a chance to get a permanent resident card that lets you live and work in the United States. The lottery is open to people from countries with low immigration to the United States.

Every year, around 50,000 people are randomly selected to apply for a Green Card. This article will explore how the lottery works, who can apply, and what to do if you win.

What is the Green Card (Diversity Visa) Lottery?

One of the ways to obtain permanent residency in the United States is through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the Green Card Lottery. This program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to increase the diversity of immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Every year.

The U.S. Department of State randomly selects around 50,000 applicants from Green Card lottery eligible countries to receive an immigrant visa, which allows them to live and work legally in the U.S. as permanent residents.

To participate in the DV Lottery, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. You must also be a citizen of a country that is listed as eligible for the DV Program. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can submit an online application during the registration period, which usually runs from October to November each year.

You must provide accurate and complete information on your application. And most importantly, you can only submit one entry per person; multiple entries will result in disqualification.

After the registration period ends, the U.S. Department of State conducts a computerized random drawing to select the winners of the DV Lottery. The results are usually announced in May of the following year on the official website of the DV Program.

You can check your status online by entering your confirmation number, which you received when you submitted your application. If you are selected, you will receive instructions on how to proceed with your visa application process.

Being selected in the DV Lottery does not guarantee that you will receive an immigrant visa. You must still meet all the requirements for an immigrant visa, such as passing a medical examination and a background check, and proving that you have enough financial resources to support yourself in the U.S. You must also act quickly and follow the instructions carefully, as there are more winners than available visas, and visas are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Green Card Lottery Deadlines & Dates

The Green Card Lottery deadlines and dates vary from year to year but usually follow a similar pattern. The Green Card lottery application period opens in October and closes in November of the previous year. The results are announced in May of the following year.

The selected applicants then have to apply for an immigrant visa through either consular processing or adjustment of status, depending on their location and eligibility.

Learn More About How to Get Green Card Through Consular Processing

For the Green Card lottery 2024, the application period ran from October 5, 2022, until November 8, 2022. The results are available online from May 6, 2023, until September 30, 2024. The selected applicants will have to apply for an immigrant visa before the Green Card lottery deadline of September 30, 2024, which is the end of the fiscal year.

For the DV-2025 DV Lottery, the application period is expected to open in October 2023 and close in November 2023. The exact Green Card lottery dates will be announced by the U.S. Department of State in September 2023.

The results will be available online from May 2024 until September 2025. The selected applicants will have to apply for an immigrant visa before September 30, 2025, which is the end of the fiscal year.

Who Can Apply for the Green Card Lottery?

To apply for the DV lottery, you must meet two main criteria: nationality and education or work experience.

Nationality: You must be from a country that is eligible for the DV program. The list of Green Card lottery eligible countries changes every year based on the immigration statistics of the previous five years. For example, for the Green Card lottery 2024, people from these countries are not eligible:

Bangladesh, Colombia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), India, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nigeria, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, UK (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

If you are not from any of these countries, you may be eligible for the DV program.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, if you were born in an ineligible country but your spouse or parents were born in one of the Green Card lottery eligible countries, you may be able to use their nationality and apply for Green Card lottery.

You can check your eligibility on the official website or get in contact with Grape Law for more advice.

Education or Work Experience: You must have either a high school diploma or its equivalent (such as a GED), or two years of work experience in a job that requires a minimum of two years of training or experience in the last five years.

You can check if your job qualifies on the U.S. Department of Labor's O*NET Online database.

How to Apply for the Green Card Lottery?

To apply for the Green Card lottery, you must complete an online Green Card lottery application form on the official website during the registration period. Here are the steps to apply for the DV program online:

Step 1: Check the Registration Dates and Eligibility Criteria

The registration dates for the DV program vary from year to year but generally fall in the October-November period. The U.S. Department of State publishes the Green Card lottery dates and the list of eligible and ineligible Green Card lottery countries on its website and social media platforms every year.

You must be from an eligible country and meet the education or work experience requirements to apply for the program.

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Step 2: Go to the Official Website and Fill Out the Green Card Lottery Application Form

The official website for the DV program is dvprogram.state.gov. You will need to provide some basic information about yourself and your family members (such as name, date of birth, gender, country of birth, and country of residence), as well as upload a recent digital photo that meets the specifications.

You can use a photo tool on the website to crop and resize your photo.

Step 3: Submit Your Entry and Get a Confirmation Number

Only one entry per person is allowed during a year. If you submit more than one entry or use fraudulent information or photos, you will be disqualified from the lottery. You will also need a valid email address to receive notifications and updates about your application status.

After you submit your entry online, you will receive a confirmation number that you must keep safe until the end of the DV program. You will need this number to check if you have been selected for further processing on the official website.

These are the steps to apply for the DV program online. There is absolutely no cost to get yourself registered for the DV program.

What are the Green Card Lottery Requirements?

If you are selected for further processing in the DV program (also known as winning the lottery), you will have to meet some additional Green Card lottery requirements before you can get your visa and Diversity Immigrant Visa.

Additional requirements include:

  • Filling out an online visa application form (DS-260) and sending supporting documents (such as birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, police certificates, medical exam reports, etc.) to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC).
  • Paying the fees for the visa application and the Diversity Visa issuance.
  • Going to an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your country of residence, where you will be asked questions about your background, qualifications, and plans in the United States.
  • Passing the medical exam and security checks by the U.S. government.
  • Being eligible for admission to the United States under immigration laws and regulations.

What Happens if I Win the Green Card Lottery?

If you are one of the lucky winners of the DV lottery, you will receive a notification from the U.S. Department of State by email or by checking the Entrant Status Check website.

You will then have to submit an online application form (DS-260) and provide supporting documents to prove your eligibility. You will also have to pay a fee of $325 per person and undergo a medical examination and an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your country.

If your application is approved, you will receive a visa stamp on your passport and be able to travel to the United States as a permanent resident.

Get Professional Help with Grape Law

Green Card applications could be complicated. A small mistake may end up with denial. Getting professional help for your Green Card process is a good idea to take advantage of experience in the immigration cases. Send us a message or schedule a video call!

FAQs about the Green Card Lottery

Am I Eligible for the Green Card Lottery If I’m Married to a U.S. Citizen or Have Other Families in the United States?

Yes, you are eligible for the DV lottery if you’re married to a U.S. citizen or if you have other family members present in the United States.

Which Countries are not Eligible for the Green Card Lottery?

The countries for the DV Lottery change every year. However, countries that were not eligible for the Green Card Lottery 2023 were Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, South Korea, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, El Salvador, Pakistan, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Philippines, United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories.

Is There a Minimum Age to Apply For a Green Card Lottery?

There is no minimum age to apply for a DV lottery. However, under 18 applicants are likely to be disqualified.

How Long does It Take to Get a Green Card?

The time it takes to get a Green Card varies depending on the category under which you apply for. However, it can take 6 months to several years for processing.

Can I Enter The Green Card Lottery If I’m in The United States?

Yes, you can enter the DV lottery if you’re in the United States. In case of being selected, you need to proceed with the Adjustment of Status from your non-immigrant status.

Can My Spouse and I Each Submit Separate Entries for The Green Card Lottery?

Yes, your spouse and you can each submit separate entries for the Diversity Immigrant Visa. If one applicant is selected, the other one could be sponsored as a family member.

What If I Lost My Confirmation Number?

If you’ve lost your confirmation number, you can retrieve it by visiting the Entrant Status Check page on the DV Lottery website.

How Much does It Cost to Enter the Green Card Lottery?

Entering the DV lottery is free. If you are selected for the lottery then you will have to mandatorily pay the DV Lottery application fees. Strongly advised to be careful about DV Lottery frauds.

Why was the Green Card Lottery Created?

The Green Card lottery was created to provide an opportunity for people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to obtain permanent residency.

What is the Chance of Winning the Green Card Lottery?

The chance of winning the Green Card lottery varies each year depending on how many people apply and how many visas are available. Generally, the possibility is 1:25 to 1:75.


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