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Green Card Lottery

Are you looking for information on the Green Card Lottery?

Are you trying to gain permanent residency in the United States through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card Lottery)?

If you answered “Yes” to either of the questions above, reading this chapter is essential for you! The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States congressionally mandated lottery program for making available a United States Permanent Resident card to a select number of foreign citizens. It is also known as the “Green Card Lottery.”

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (known colloquially as the Green Card Lottery and thus referred to in this article) is a congressionally mandated program annually administered by the US Department of State. The program seeks to give people from various countries an opportunity to secure visas that might otherwise be inaccessible to them. The program deals with “diversity immigrants” who have a special category of visas reserved exclusively for them. A diversity immigrant is an individual from a country with historically low rates of immigration to the US.

The visas made available annually through the Green Card Lottery are available to diversity immigrants meeting certain qualifications. First, to enter the Green Card Lottery, an individual must be a native from one of the countries listed on the State Department website. One is considered a native if he or she is either

  • born in the country
  • married to someone born in the country (NOTE: this is only applicable if the individual and the native spouse are on a selected entry, are issued a visa and enter the US simultaneously) or
  • the child of parents born in an eligible country (NOTE: this is only applicable to those individuals whose parents did not live in an ineligible country at the time of their birth)

Second, an individual must meet certain educational requirements, namely, the applicant must have either:

  • a high school education or its equivalent (defined as the completion of a twelve year course of study including elementary and secondary education) or
  • two years of work experience within the past five years, in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience

Provided an individual meets the above qualifications, he or she will be entered into a computer generated, randomly drawn lottery. Visas are distributed within six distinct geographic regions and, within each region; no country may receive 7 percent or more of the allotted visas. Natives of countries who have 50,000 immigrants or more in the US or who have sent 50,000 immigrants to the US over the past five years are not eligible for the diversity visa program.

How does the Visa Lottery Program work?

Each year, a random lottery drawing is computer-generated for the selection of diversity visas from six geographic regions. For every registration period, only one entry is allowed for each applicant. Any duplication or multiple entries disqualifies the individual from registration for this program. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that an applicant will be granted a diversity visa, even with a proper filing of the application.

What are the requirements for the Visa Lottery Program?

The two main requirements for the Visa Lottery Program are that the foreign national be from a qualifying visa lottery country, and that the foreign national have the requisite education or work experience.

Visa Lottery Countries

If you are a native of one of the countries listed in the following section (see chart below), then you may apply for a diversity visa, if you also meet the education or work experience requirements. Being a native usually means the country where you were born; however there are two other ways to qualify. First, if the country you were born in does not qualify for this program, but your spouse was born in a country that does qualify, then you can claim your spouse’s country of birth; however, you must both be on the DV entry form. The second way is if your birth country does not qualify for a diversity visa and neither of your parents were born in that country, or lived there when you were born, you can claim the birth country of one of your parents, if that country is eligible for the program.

What countries are eligible for the Visa Lottery Program?

For Fiscal Year DV-2014, approximately 50,000 diversity visas will be available and natives of the following countries are ineligible to apply as diversity immigrants:

BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.

What is the education or work experience required to qualify for the DV visa?

To enter the DV program, you must also have either a high school education or its equivalent; or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires training or experience for at least two years in order to perform. A ”high school education or its equivalent” means the successful completion of both elementary and secondary education. Equivalency certificates, such as a G.E.D., are not acceptable. The qualifying work experience is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online database. Please visit the U.S. Department of Labor O*net site for a complete list.

How do I enter the Visa Lottery Program?

To enter the visa lottery program, visit www.dvlottery.state.gov and follow the instructions very carefully. As mentioned above, for every registration period, only one entry is allowed for each applicant. Any duplication or multiple entries in a given year disqualifies the individual from registration for this program.

How do I know if I have been selected?

Applicants will receive notification by regular mail, not electronic mail, between May and July of the following year after their DV Online Entry. After you have been notified, more information and instructions will be sent by the U.S. Department of State. Those applicants who are not selected will not be notified at all.

If I have a visa from another visa category, can I still apply for the DV program?

Yes, you can still apply for the DV program, regardless of any other visa you might hold.

If I am already present in the U.S., can I still apply for the visa lottery program?

Yes. You can apply for the visa lottery program if you are already present in the U.S. Applications for the visa lottery program can be submitted from the U.S. or abroad.

Can I bring my family along if I am selected to receive a diversity visa?

Yes. You can bring your spouse and unmarried children under twenty-one (21). They are not required to accompany you to the U.S.

Conclusion

The Visa Lottery Program may be a great option for you, if your ultimate goal is to settle in the United States and you do not qualify for one of the other visa categories. If you belong to a country which qualifies under the Visa Lottery Program and have the requisite educational or work experience, you should continue to apply each year for the Visa Lottery Program to increase your odds of getting chosen for a diversity visa.

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