What is the Green card Lottery or Diversity Visa Lottery (DV)?

The Diversity Lottery or “Green Card Lottery” as it is often called is one of the ways for immigration of people from certain countries into the U.S. for the purposes of increasing cultural and ethnic diversity. Each year, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) makes 50,000 permanent resident visas available to potential immigrants, through it’s Diversity Immigrant Visa, DV Lottery program, also known as the USA Green Card lottery. They are chosen by dividing the world into regions and allocating no more than 7% of the total green cards to each region. The DV Lottery program offers each applicant the opportunity to “win” legal permanent residence or “green card” enabling him or her to live and work, in the U.S.

The Green Card Lottery winners are selected in a computerized random drawing. Persons whose names are selected may apply for one of 50,000 Diversity Immigrant Visas made available each year. These visas are available only to persons from eligible countries with low immigration rates to the United States, according to the rules of the DV Lottery program. No visas can go to applicants from countries which have sent more than 50,000 immigrants in the past five years. Each person may have only one application submitted for the DV Lottery. Anyone who submits more than one application will be removed from the DV Lottery system and the computer applications make that process much easier to facilitate.

In order to apply for the Green Card Lottery, an immigrant must be a foreign national of a qualifying country. Additionally the spouse of a qualifying foreign national may apply.

The applicant must also meet the following requirements to apply for a DV Lottery Visa.

  1. You must be a native of a country on the list of eligible countries. If you are not, you could alternatively be the spouse of someone born in a country on the list of eligible countries and you are both on the selected entry and enter the United States at the same time. If you were born in an ineligible country, but neither of your parents were born in an ineligible country or resided there at the time of your birth, you may claim nativity in one of your parents’ country of birth if it is an eligible country.
  2. You must meet education or work experience requirements. You must have either a high school diploma or its equivalent. Alternatively, if you cannot meet that requirement, you have to have two years of work experience in the past five years in an occupation which required at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Winners, their spouses, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 will receive the opportunity to apply for permanent resident status in the Untied States. Winning the Green Card Lottery does not automatically grant applicants a Green Card or US citizenship. The DV Lottery merely streamlines and simplifies the immigration process. Winners will still need to fill out some applications and must be approved before the Green Card is awarded.

If you have applied for an immigrant visa number through another category such as through family members or employment, you can still apply for DV lottery while you are waiting for your number to come up in the other category. The DV lottery can be the fastest way for a foreign national to get permanent resident status, but it really is only for the lucky!


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