The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is administered by the Department of State as a way khổng lồ increase the diversity of the immigrants coming lớn live in the United States.

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Each year, the Diversity Visa program allows more than 50,000 randomly selected people — only from countries that don’t send many immigrants khổng lồ the United States — lớn obtain permanent residency (commonly called a “green card“). It’s a way for individuals & families who otherwise wouldn’t have any way to lớn legally immigrate to the United States to get a green card.

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Entering the Diversity Visa lottery (aka green card lottery) involves filling out a simple khung online, và it doesn’t cost anything. You can enter the lottery every year from early October through early November. The winners are selected at random by a computer, and they và their immediate families receive green cards.

In this guide, we’ll explain who is eligible & how khổng lồ apply:


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Diversity Visa Cost


There is no fee lớn enter the green card lottery. However, if you’re selected & choose khổng lồ apply for a Diversity Visa, you’ll need khổng lồ pay the mandatory green thẻ application fees. Once selected, you’ll receive information and details of the required fees on the Diversity Visa trang web at dvprogram.state.gov.


Diversity Visa Timeline


The winners of the green card lottery are typically notified 7 months after submitting their entry. Once selected, it can take up to 14 months lớn be scheduled for your interview and receive your visa, depending on how soon you apply for your visa.

For example, if you applied for the 2023 green thẻ lottery during the registration period (Oct-Nov 2021), the winners would be announced sometime in May 2022. You would only be allowed to lớn apply for your visa during fiscal year 2023, which is from Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023. The sooner you apply during that year, the sooner you will be scheduled for your visa interview và be issued your visa.

Once you have your visa, you must enter the United States on or before the expiration date printed on your visa. A Diversity Visa is typically valid for up to lớn 6 months from the date of it was issued.


Diversity Visa Eligibility


There are two main requirements when applying for a Diversity Visa:

1. Country of birth

In order khổng lồ be eligible for the Diversity Visa, you must have been born in a country that sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past 5 years. There is some yearly variation in the countries that are eligible, but Canada, China, India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom never make the list, because these countries all send a large number of immigrants lớn the United States.

For the 2023 application period, nationals from the following countries were not eligible to lớn apply:

Bangladesh El Salvador Honduras South Korea United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories Venezuela Vietnam

For more information, the State Department provides a list of all eligible countries.

If your native country is not eligible, there are still two ways you could qualify for the Diversity Visa:

If your spouse was born in an eligible country, you can apply with your spouse and choose your spouse’s birth country on your application. If neither of your parents were legal residents in your own country of birth, you can choose your mother or father’s country of birth.

2. Education

The second major requirement for Diversity Visa applicants is that you must have at least a high school degree, or at least two years of work experience within the past five years in a profession that requires at least two years of training, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.


How to Enter the Green thẻ Lottery


Participating in the lottery is relatively easy. You fill out a khung on the State Department’s website while it is available, from early October through early November. Most of the questions are easy to lớn understand; however, there are a few places where these extra suggestions may be helpful:

For “country of birth,” các mục the country you were born in, regardless of where you currently live. If the country has a different name now than it did when you were born, use the country’s current name. For “country of eligibility,” menu either your country of birth, or—if you qualify khổng lồ use your spouse’s or your parents’ birth countries—list that country. The country you currently live in is irrelevant for this question. Your spouse: You must menu your spouse, even if he or she doesn’t live with you and does not intend to lớn immigrate with you. Your children: You must menu all of your biological children và all of your adopted children, no matter how old they are. You should also danh sách all of your step-children under age 21, even if you are no longer married lớn their parent.

You’ll also need khổng lồ include a recent photo (taken within the past 6 months) of you, your spouse, và your children. Follow the same photo requirements as for a green card application.

Once you submit your application, it’s essential to keep your confirmation number, because this is the only way to lớn know if you’ve been selected


Selection và Notification


The winners of the Diversity Visa lottery are chosen at random by a computer program, with a certain number of visas allocated khổng lồ each region of the world và no one country receiving more than 7% of the Diversity Visas available in any given year.

Although the exact dates vary, people who have entered the Diversity Visa lottery can kiểm tra the status of their application beginning in early May the year following their application, by using the Entrant Status check link on the Diversity Visa webpage. This is why it’s so important to lớn save that confirmation number: Without it, you won’t be able khổng lồ see if you’ve been selected or not.

If you’re selected in the green thẻ lottery, you & your family members will have lớn meet the same requirements as any other U.S. Green thẻ applicant. Certain types of criminal records could make you ineligible for a green card. There are also some medical conditions that could make it difficult or impossible to get a green card.

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What Happens Next?


If you’re selected in the green card lottery, it’s important khổng lồ act fast, even though it could still be a year or more before you’re able to come to the United States. There are two reasons khổng lồ act immediately: First of all, your application must be processed và your visa must be issued by the end of the fiscal year for which you were selected. Second, there are more people selected for the Diversity Visa than there are visas available, và if you wait until the last minute there might not be any visas left.

When you’re notified that you won the Diversity Visa, you’ll get a numerical rank, which will tell you when you can apply for your visa. Towards the kết thúc of July, you can check the State Department’s visa bulletin khổng lồ see when you can submit your application. The first visas are available on October 1, the first day of the U.S. Government’s fiscal year, & you can submit your application up to lớn 90 days ahead of time.

If you’re outside the United States

The vast majority of people who are selected for the Diversity Visa aren’t in the United States, và will apply for a green thẻ through the U.S. Consulate in their trang chủ country. As soon as you see that there is a visa available, you should submit khung DS-260 with the National Visa Center. Once your application is processed, it will be forwarded khổng lồ the U.S. Consulate, which will schedule a visa interview. If you meet all the requirements, you will be approved for your immigrant visa at the interview.

If you’re in the United States

If you’re in the United States in a temporary immigration status (technically known as “non-immigrant status”) when you win the Diversity Visa lottery, you’ll apply for a green card through United States Citizenship và Immigration Services (USCIS) by filing khung I-485. You should submit your application as soon as a visa becomes available, based on the visa bulletin.


Avoiding Scams


Unfortunately, the Diversity Visa program is sometimes abused by scammers as a way khổng lồ defraud hopeful immigrants. Here are a couple of tips lớn avoid common scams related lớn the Diversity Visa:

Entering the Diversity Visa lottery is free. Anyone claiming khổng lồ collect a fee on the Department of State’s behalf is scamming aspiring immigrants.

Entering the Diversity Visa lottery is like entering any other lottery—the odds of winning aren’t high—but if you’re lucky, it can be a way lớn come lớn the United States even if you don’t have any family or employment contacts. If you’re married lớn a U.S. Citizen, though, applying for a marriage green thẻ is almost certainly the better option.


Diversity Visa FAQs


Am I eligible for the green card lottery if I’m married lớn a U.S. Citizen or have other family in the United States?

If you’re married lớn a U.S. Citizen, you could still apply for the Diversity Visa lottery. However, there’s little advantage to doing so, since you will almost always be able to lớn come to lớn the United States sooner by applying for a marriage-based green thẻ instead.

If you have another family thành viên who could sponsor your green card, it might still be worthwhile to lớn apply for the Diversity Visa lottery. Some family-based immigration categories—for example, siblings of U.S. Citizens—take a very long time, & you would be able to lớn come khổng lồ the United States much sooner if you won the Diversity Visa lottery.

How many Diversity Visas will go to each eligible country?

United States Citizenship và Immigration Services (USCIS) calculates the number of Diversity Visas allocated to lớn each country based on a formula outlines in Section 203(c) of the Immigration và Nationality Act (INA). No one country can received more than 7% of the total number of Diversity Visas available each year.

Is there a minimum age to lớn apply for a Diversity Visa?

There is no minimum age requirement, but the need for a high school education or work experience disqualifies most people under 18 from applying.

How long does it take to get a Diversity Visa?

The winners of the green card lottery are generally notified 7 months after applying. It can take up khổng lồ 14 months lớn for the government to lớn schedule your interview và issue your visa, depending on how soon you apply for your visa.

Can I enter the Diversity Visa lottery if I’m in the United States?

Yes, you may enter the green thẻ lottery from anywhere, including from within the U.S.

Can my spouse và I each submit separate entries?

Yes, each spouse may submit their own Diversity Visa entry. If one of the spouses is selected, then the other spouse will qualify for a green card as your dependent.

What if I’ve lost my confirmation number?

You need your confirmation number to access the Entrant Status check — the online portal where you see whether or not you’ve been selected. If you thua your confirmation number, you can retrieve it using the thư điện tử address you used to register for the lottery.

How much does it cost lớn enter the green card lottery?

There is no fee lớn enter the Diversity Visa lottery. However, if you’re selected và choose lớn apply for a Diversity Visa, you’ll need to lớn pay the mandatory green card application fees.

Why was the Diversity Visa lottery established?

The Diversity Visa was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 as a way to increase the diversity among immigrants lớn the United States. There have always been a handful of countries from which the majority of immigrants lớn the United States come, và Congress established the Diversity Visa program khổng lồ increase the number of immigrants from smaller countries and countries that don’t send many immigrants to the United States.