The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced the opening of the registration period for the 2019 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program enables foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence (sometimes referred to as a green card) in the United States without employer or family sponsorship. The DV Lottery Program selects 50,000 people annually who can then pursue an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country or adjust their status in the United States through the Department of Homeland Security (if a foreign national is residing legally in a nonimmigrant status in the United States at the time of the application.)

This year’s program will again accept only electronic (online) applications. Both the application and the required accompanying photographs must be submitted in an acceptable electronic format. Failure to complete the form in its entirety will disqualify the applicant’s entry. To be eligible for the lottery drawing, the application must be received between noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, and noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Applicants must submit an Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV Entry Form or DS-5501) online, which is available only here. Importantly, there is no fee to register for the annual DV Lottery Program.

After applicants submit a complete entry, they will see a confirmation screen containing their name and a unique confirmation number. Applicants should print this confirmation screen for their records. They will need this confirmation page and unique confirmation number to access the online system that will inform them of the status of their entry.

Applicants will be selected at random by computer from among all qualified entries. Starting May 1, 2018, applicants will be able to check the status of their entry by returning to www.dvlottery.state.gov, clicking on Entrant Status Check, and entering their unique confirmation number and personal information. Applicants must use Entrant Status Check to check if they have been selected for the DV-2019 lottery and to check their immigrant visa interview appointment date. The U.S. government will not inform applicants directly, nor will any notification letters be sent out to registrants.

Persons born in the following countries are not eligible to participate because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.

To enter the lottery, an applicant must possess either a high school diploma (or its equivalent) or have two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires, at a minimum, two years of training or experience. Only one entry per person is permitted. Applicants should be aware that submitting more than one entry will disqualify all entries by the applicant. A husband and wife may each submit one entry, provided that each spouse meets the eligibility requirements. If either spouse is selected, the other will be entitled to derivative permanent resident status. Minor children under 21 will also secure derivative permanent resident status, should one of their parents be selected in the lottery.

The State Department strongly encourages individuals to complete the entry form themselves, without the help of a consultant, agent, or facilitator. We warn individuals that there have been scams in place over the last few years by individuals and entities charging individuals to complete the application. There is no fee to register. If applicants have someone assist them with the entry form, they should be present when the entry is prepared so that they can provide the correct answers to questions and retain the confirmation page and their unique confirmation number. Without the confirmation page and unique confirmation number, applicants will not be able to access the online system that will inform them of the status of their entry.

Remember, the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form must be submitted during the period from October 3, 2017, to November 7, 2017.