The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is a lottery-style draw administered by the Department of State, where natives of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States are randomly selected for a diversity visa.
There are a limited number of diversity visas distributed in any one fiscal year. For the DV-2020 US Visa Lottery there will be 50,000 such visas made available to natives from a number of different foreign regions, where 2020 refers to the year where successful entrants can enter the United States.
What are your chances in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
As a non-US national, it is possible to obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States by entering the US Visa Lottery.
While in no way guaranteed, the following guide tells you how to go about obtaining a lottery-style green card, courtesy of what’s officially known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.
Who is eligible to apply for the US visa lottery?
Enrolment into the US visa lottery is open to all individuals worldwide who meet the following two entry requirements:
- You must be a native of a qualifying country
- You must meet an education or work experience requirement.
A native of a qualifying country
Under US immigration law, the list of eligible countries is limited to those from which fewer than 50,000 natives in various visa categories immigrated to the United States during the previous five years.
The list of eligible countries for each year’s US visa lottery is modified on the sole basis of this five year calculation, where people born in countries with high immigration rates are excluded from the program.
In the event that you were born in one of the non-qualifying countries, you may in limited circumstances still be able to participate in the US Visa Lottery based on the country of birth of your parents or spouse.
Education or work experience requirement
Each US Visa Lottery entrant must also meet the education or work experience requirement by having either:
- Completed at least a US high school education or its foreign equivalent, defined as the successful completion of a twelve year course of formal elementary and secondary education, or
- Obtained two years work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience. The US Department of Labor’s O*NET Online database will be used to determine qualifying work experience.
There is no minimum age to apply for the US Visa Lottery, although the requirement of a high school education or work experience will effectively disqualify most persons who are under the age of 18.
How do I apply for the US visa lottery?
To enter the US visa lottery you must do so via the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery website. The law allows only one entry per person during the registration period, where individuals who submit more than one entry will be disqualified.
To complete your US Visa Lottery entry you must provide your personal and contact details. You must also list any eligible spouse and children under 21, unless they are already a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, regardless of whether they are living with you or intend to immigrate alongside you.
Failure to list any eligible spouse or children, or listing someone who is not in fact your spouse or child, is grounds for disqualification. Although the US Visa Lottery is limited to one entry per person, each spouse may submit their own entry if each meets the eligibility requirements. If either spouse is selected, the other is entitled to apply as a dependant.
All entrants must enroll with a recent visa-compliant photo, taken within the last six months, as well as a photograph of any eligible spouse and children. Submitting the same photograph that was submitted with a prior year’s entry will result in disqualification from the US visa lottery.
Having registered, you must print and retain your confirmation page so that you will be able to check your entry status online. It is crucial that you retain a record of your unique confirmation number, as this is the only way to check whether your entry has been selected. You will not otherwise be notified.
Successful entrants will be directed to a confirmation page providing instructions on how to apply for a visa, including information about fees connected with that application.