The U.S. Department of State opened the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery registration for FY 2017 at noon eastern standard time (EST) on October 1, 2015. It will close on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at noon (EST). The DV program allows individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States to obtain lawful permanent residence or a green card in the United States. Registration for the lottery is free. 

Eligibility Requirements

All foreign nationals are eligible to apply for the lottery except natives of the following countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

Natives of these countries may still be eligible for the lottery through a process known as “alternate chargeability” whereby an applicant may assert his or her origin to be the country of birth of a parent or spouse rather than the applicant’s country of birth.

In addition, applicants must have 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 the job.

Application Process

Applicants must submit an electronic entry during this registration period using the electronic DV entry form available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. All entries must be submitted electronically. All applicants must print and keep their online confirmation pages after submission in order to check their entry status. Applicants should attempt to enter the lottery before the last week of the registration period to avoid possible website delays caused by heavy traffic in the final days of the registration period. No entries will be accepted after noon (EST) on November 3, 2015.

Applicants may check their entry status beginning on May 3, 2016. This website is the only way to confirm selection in the lottery and will provide instructions to selectees for completing their immigrant visa applications. The selected applicants must be processed and issued immigrant visas before midnight on September 30, 2017, or their eligibility will expire. Foreign nationals considering participation in the DV lottery should be wary of fraudulent websites, emails offering DV lottery assistance that may not be legitimate, and fraudulent email notifications of selection. 

Benefit to Employers

Because the DV lottery provides an alternative immigration solution to employees who may be subject to long backlogs for permanent residency and work authorization, some employers may want to inform eligible employees of this option. If employees are selected for the lottery, employers may seek the assistance of counsel to assist the DV selectees in the timely processing of their applications before the September 30, 2017 deadline.