Each year the U.S. Congress makes available approximately 50,000 immigrant visas (aka, “green cards”) to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program, also known as the “green card lottery.” The U.S. Department of State conducts the lottery and randomly selects approximately 100,000 applicants from a pool of millions of qualified entrants. From this selected applicant pool, a maximum of 50,000 Diversity Visas are then issued during the following fiscal year. Once all the visas are issued or the fiscal year ends, the program is closed.
Recipients of Diversity Visas are authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Additionally, they are allowed to sponsor a spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 for lawful permanent residence in the United States along with them.
In order to qualify, an applicant must have EITHER a high school education or its equivalent OR two years of work experience within the past five years, in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. Each spouse in a family may submit a separate application that will cover both spouses and any dependent children. Many countries that already send significant numbers of immigrants to the U.S. are not qualified to participate in this program. The list of qualified countries is listed on the websites below.
The Department of State will be accepting applications for the next diversity lottery from Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12 p.m. EDT until Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 12 p.m. EDT. Individuals may submit only one application, which must be filed electronically at www.dvlottery.state.gov during this period. Paper entries will not be accepted. Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after 12 p.m. EDT on November 3, 2012.
Being selected in the diversity lottery does not guarantee permanent residency status. Instead, selected applicants are merely eligible to apply for permanent residency if their assigned rank number becomes current. Even then, the selected applicant must complete an extensive application process and satisfy national security and criminal background checks. Because the number of individuals selected in the lottery far exceeds the number of actual permanent visas available, it is critical that selected applicants be prepared to act quickly upon receiving the government notification in the mail.
Please see the U.S. Department of State’s instructions for DV-2014, which are available here.