Diversity Visa Lottery Program
Looking for the latest information on the Diversity Visa Lottery? Visit the State Department’s Website for more current information.
What is the Diversity Visa Lottery Program?
Each year, 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through a lottery to people who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. None of these visas are available for people who come from countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. The State Department’s National Visa Center holds the lottery every year, and chooses winners randomly from all qualified entries. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. If permanent residence is granted, then the individual will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.
What does the Law Say?
The legal foundation for the Diversity Visa Lottery Program comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Please see INA § 203 for more information.
Who is Eligible to Enter the Diversity Visa Lottery?
- You or your spouse must be a native of a country that is eligible to participate in the Diversity Visa Lottery. You may also be eligible to apply if your parent was born in a country that is eligible to participate. (The State Department will publish the names of countries that are eligible to participate before each year’s lottery.)
- You must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, defined in the United States as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR you must have two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.
How Do I Apply?
Before each year’s lottery drawing, the Department of State will publish explicit instructions on how to apply in press releases and the Federal Register. Please follow all directions exactly. Millions of applicants are rejected each year for failure to follow the directions. Please watch the State Department Website for more information on the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Instructions are usually posted in August, and the registration period is usually held in October each year.
How Much Does the Lottery Cost?
There is no fee for entering the diversity visa lottery. If you win, you must pay a fee for an immigrant visa and a separate visa lottery surcharge.
How Can I Find Out If I Won?
Only the winners will be notified by mail at the addresses listed on their applications. Winners will be sent instructions and information on fees. Being selected as a winner in the diversity visa lottery does not automatically guarantee that you will be issued a visa, even if you are qualified. The number of entries selected is greater than the number of immigrant visas available, because not everyone selected will be qualified for the visa or will choose to complete the processing. Once all 50,000 visas have been issued, the diversity visa program for the year will end.
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