Today’s record-setting Powerball drawing isn’t the only life-changing lottery. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program randomly issues up to 50,000 visas annually to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The U.S. Department of State issues these visas through a lottery system. Most Diversity Visa lottery winners reside outside the United States and immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa.
To have a chance at winning the Diversity Visa lottery, an immigrant must apply for a Diversity Visa through the Department of State during the entry registration period, which typically runs from October through December of each year. By meeting certain eligibility criteria, an immigrant may obtain a green card through the program.
The 2016 and 2017 Diversity Visa lotteries have already passed, so applicants interested in this year’s Diversity Visa lottery will need to meet the criteria for the 2018 Diversity Visa program. Applicants who are issued a visa would be able to enter the United States in 2018. Registration for the 2018 Diversity Visa lottery will begin in October 2016.