How Does the Green Card Lottery Work?

The green card lottery, which is formally known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV), is a program administered each year by the U.S. Department of State that allows certain individuals to immigrate to the U.S. if they meet certain strict eligibility requirements. The idea behind the DV program is to make visas, and eventually citizenship, available to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. over the prior five years.

The green card lottery involves certain procedures that may be difficult to understand and follow, especially for foreign nationals who are unfamiliar with the process. Having the assistance of an immigration attorney who can guide you through the process is often advantageous in this situation. An attorney can answer your questions as they arise, help you understand the process as you go through it, and ensure that you have complied with all of the eligibility requirements for the DV program.

Eligibility Requirements for the Green Card Lottery

In order to be eligible for the green card lottery, or the DV program, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, which are primarily related to your country of residence. As long as you meet these requirements and are otherwise eligible for a visa, you may apply to enter the DV program, from which you may be randomly chosen. Up to 55,000 visas are made available through the DV program each year. The eligibility requirements include the following:

  • You must be a native of a qualifying country.
      -Eligible individuals may not be from a country that has had more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years.
      -Within each of six geographic regions, no single country may receive more than 7% of the available DVs in one year.
  • You must either have a high school education  (or its equivalent), or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Applying for the Green Card Lottery

In order to apply for the green card lottery, you must submit an electronic entry form (E-DV) at during the specified registration period for that year. The Department of State no longer accepts any paper entries. Your entry must list your spouse and all of your unmarried children under the age of 21. You also must submit recent photographs of yourself, your spouse, and all of your unmarried children under the age of 21.

Once you have successfully submitted your E-DV, you will be able to print a confirmation screen that contains your name and a confirmation number. You must keep this confirmation number, as it is the only way that you will be able to check the status of your DV entry through the Entrant Status Check function of the DV website. If you lose or misplace your confirmation number, you will be unable to check the status of your entry.

Contact Your Immigration Attorney Today

Determining your eligibility for and going through the DV program can be a complex process. Getting the advice of an experienced immigration attorney can help make this process much easier. Contact your immigration attorney for advice about the DV program.