Each year, the Diversity Visa Lottery (DV) Program makes available 50,000 immigrant visas to aliens from selected countries. The list of selected eligible countries changes each year. See end of this summary for those countries not eligible this year. Those who complete the process will be authorized to live and work in the United States.
The Diversity Visa “lottery” is a two-step process: (i) submission of an electronic entry form and, if randomly selected you are then eligible for the next step – (ii) the diversity visa application.
Step 1: Electronic Entry
The U.S. Department of State will only accept completed E-DV entry forms (E-DV Entry Form or DS-5501) submitted electronically at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ during the registration period between noon (EDT) Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and noon (EST) Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Note that an individual will be disqualified if more than ONE entry for that individual is received, regardless of who submitted the entry. However, a husband and a wife may each submit one entry if each meets the eligibility requirements. If either is selected, the other is entitled to apply as a derivative dependent. A successfully submitted entry will result in a confirmation screen containing your name and a unique confirmation number. You must print this confirmation screen for your records and ensure that you retain your confirmation number in a safe place. The State Department will not be able to provide you with your confirmation number if you lose it. You can also access http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ for lottery frequently asked questions, eligible countries, requirements for entry, procedures for submitting an entry to the DV-2019 lottery, digital photo specifications, etc.
The E-DV Entry Form is designed to be completed and submitted at one time. The instructions can be found online (http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/) and explain clearly and completely what information is required to fill in the form. Thus, you can be fully prepared, making sure you have all the information needed before you start to complete the form online. The U.S. Department of State strongly encourages you to complete this entry form yourself, and if someone prepares it on your behalf, you should be present to verify the information is accurate. There is no government fee to submit your entry.
Based on the allocations of available visas in each region and country, the Department of State will randomly select individuals by computer from among qualified entries.
All DV-2019 entrants must go to the Entrant Status Check using the unique confirmation number saved from their DV-2019 online entry registration to find out whether their entry has been selected in the DV program. You will not receive a notification letter if your entry is selected. Between May 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019 you will be able to check the status of your DV-2019 entry at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ / Entrant Status Check by entering your unique confirmation number and personal information.
Step 2: Application Process
If your entry is selected, you will be directed to a confirmation page providing further instructions, including information about fees connected with immigration to the United States. The Entrant Status Check will be the sole means of informing you of your selection for DV-2019, providing you with instructions on how to proceed with your visa application and notifying you of your appointment for your immigrant visa interview.
The U.S. Department of State does not send selectee notifications or letters by regular postal mail or by email. Any email or postal notification stating that you have been selected to receive a Diversity Visa that does not come from the U.S. Department of State is not legitimate. Any email communication you receive from the U.S. Department of State will direct you to review Entrant Status Check for new information about your application.
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of successful entrants may also apply for visas to accompany or follow to join the principal applicant. If you are selected in the DV-2019 program, you are entitled to apply for visa issuance during the U.S. government fiscal year 2019 (between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019. The Department of State encourages selectees to apply for visas as early as possible, once their program rank number becomes eligible. The death of a diversity lottery selectee would result in automatic revocation of the case and any eligible spouse and/or children would no longer be entitled to a visa based on that entry.
All applicants must meet two simple, but strict, eligibility requirements.
- Requirement 1: To be eligible to apply for the Green Card Lottery, the alien must be a native of a country that has been selected to participate in this year’s lottery (complete list of eligible countries can be found at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/). This is more fully explained below under Chargeability.
- Requirement 2: Applicant must have a high school diploma or the equivalent of a formal high school diploma by U.S. standards or have two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation that requires at last two years of training or experience.
There is no minimum age to apply for the program, but the requirement of a high school education or work experience for each principal applicant at the time of the application will effectively disqualify most persons who are under the age of 18.
Being randomly selected does not guarantee that you will receive a visa. Random selection merely means that you are eligible to apply for a Diversity Visa, and if qualified, issued a Diversity Visa. Only the first 50,000 selected applicants to qualify will be issued visas.
Your country of eligibility will normally be the same as your country of birth, and is not related to where you live. “Native” ordinarily means someone born in a particular country, regardless of the individual’s current country of residence or nationality. For immigration purposes, “native” can also mean someone who is entitled to be “charged” to a country other than the one in which they were born.
If you are a “native” of one of the ineligible countries listed above, you can still submit an application by claiming “chargeability” to an eligible country in one of the two following ways:
- You can claim chargeability to the country where your derivative spouse was born, but your spouse must also meet the strict eligibility requirements;
- You can be “charged” to the country of birth of either of your parents as long as neither parent was a resident of the ineligible country at the time of your birth. In general, people are not considered residents of a country in which they were not born or legally naturalized if they are only visiting the country, studying in the country temporarily, or stationed temporarily in the country for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government from a country other than the country in which the applicant was born.
If you claim alternate chargeability, you must indicate such information on the electronic online Entry Form. Listing an incorrect country of eligibility or chargeability may disqualify your entry.
For DV-2019, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply (there are no changes in eligibility this year):
- China (Mainland-born)
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- South Korea
- United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories
Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.