What is the Diversity Visa Lottery Program?

Each year, 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through a lottery to people who greencard_1come from countries that have low rates of immigration to the United States. The State Department holds the lottery every year, and chooses winners randomly from all qualified entries. Anyone who is randomly selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence in the USA. If permanent residence is granted, then the individual will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States. Please see INA § 203 for more information.

Who is Eligible to Enter the Diversity Visa Lottery?

  • You or your spouse must be a native of a country that is eligible to participate in the Diversity Visa Lottery. You may also be eligible to apply if your parent was born in a country that is eligible to participate (The State Department will publish the names of countries that are eligible to participate before each year’s lottery);


  • You must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, defined in the United States as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education;


  • You must have two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

See the State Department information on the DV program.

How Do I Apply?

Before each year’s lottery drawing, the Department of State publishes specific instructions about the application process in press releases and through the Federal Register. Millions of applicants are rejected each year because they did not follow the directions. You may check the State Department Website for more information on the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Instructions are usually posted in August and the registration period is usually held in the early fall of each year.

How Much Does the Lottery Cost?

There is no fee for entering the diversity visa lottery. If you win, you must pay a fee for an immigrant visa and a separate visa lottery surcharge.

Fraud Warning: There have been instances of fraudulent websites posing as official U.S. Government websites. Some companies posing as the U.S. Government request money to “complete” lottery entry forms. The U.S. Government does NOT 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.

How Can I Find Out If I Won?

Diversity Visa lottery applicants who are notified through the Entry Status Check at https://www.dvlottery.state.govThose selected in the random drawing will NOT be notified by email.

Please note that being selected as a winner in the diversity visa lottery does not automatically guarantee that you will be issued an immigrant visa even if you are qualified. As the number of entries selected in the diversity lottery is greater than the number of immigrant visas available, not everyone selected in the diversity lottery will be qualified for the visa or will choose to complete the processing. Once all 50,000 visas have been issued in the particular year, the diversity visa program for that year will end. The diversity lottery year ends on September 30 of the specified year lottery.

How Can I Find Out More Information?

Check the State Department Website for more information on the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. You may also contact your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.



The information contained herein does not establish an attorney-client relationship and does not constitute legal advice. Prior results depend on a number of factors unique to each matter and do not guarantee a similar outcome.