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What Is The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program? How Does The Green Card Lottery Work?

June 02, 2022

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is a program that helps immigrants get a green card to live and work in the United States. 

It is a type of lottery that happens every year. In this lottery, random applicants are chosen to receive visas to help them claim their green cards. 

Today we will go through precisely what the DV program is and how you can apply for it to have a chance of securing a green card. 

What Is The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?

After the Immigration Act of 1990 was passed, The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program was created. This program was established because many immigrants arriving in America historically came from a similar group of countries. Congress wanted this program to help diversify immigrant demographics in America. 

The Department of State hosts random lottery programs every year. Immigrants from underrepresented countries can register for these lotteries at the end of the fiscal year. 

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program accounts for about 5% of the 1 million people who receive green cards. 

Fifty thousand immigrants are selected every year in the DV program to get permanent residence in the U.S. 

In 2020, more than 8 million people registered for the program. If we include spouses and children, then more than 11 million people applied

Who is eligible for the diversity visa lottery?

In order to qualify for The Diversity Visa Program, you have to be born in a country that is currently eligible. 

An eligible country includes any country that has sent less than 50,000 immigrants to America in the past five years. 

If you were born in a country that is not eligible for the DV program, you could still enter if you meet one of these requirements:

  • Your spouse was born in an eligible country, and you’re applying with them. Instead of selecting your home country on the application, you choose theirs. 
  • Your parents were born in a country that’s eligible, and they’re not legal residents of your birth country. 

Countries that usually can’t meet eligibility requirements include:

  • China
  • Mexico
  • India
  • United Kingdom 
  • Canada

This is because the U.S. receives a lot of applications from these countries already. 

However, the eligible countries change every year, so it’s essential to check if your country is still eligible every time you enter. 

For example, in 2021, some of the top DV lottery countries included:

  • Egypt
  • Sudan
  • Russia
  • Algeria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Iran
  • Ukraine
  • Morocco
  • Nepal

These countries were eligible in 2021 but they might not be when you apply which is why it’s vital to double-check. 

You’ll also have to meet one of the educational requirements to be selected. These requirements include:

  • Have completed a high school education 
  • Have two years of work experience in the last five years
  • Have a job that requires a minimum of two years of training

If you get selected in the green card lottery, you’ll also have to meet the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) green card requirements or risk being disqualified. You can also be disqualified if you do not meet specific medical vaccination requirements. 

How the diversity visa lottery works

1. Enter the lottery 

The first thing you have to do is enter the DV lottery. 

You can do this by filling out the online form on the Department of State’s website. Be careful not to apply on a fake website or form which requires payment of a fee. The government application is free.

This form is open between early October until early November every year.

You’ll be asked for your country of birth and your country of eligibility on the form. The way you answer these questions will depend on your circumstances. 

If you qualify for the program based on your spouse or your parent’s country of origin, indicate their country on the eligibility form. 

You will also be asked to list your spouse and your children. You must list all your biological, adopted, and stepchildren under 21.  

Once you’ve completed the entry form, you’ll receive a confirmation number. Make sure you keep a copy of this number as you’ll need it to know if you’ve been selected. 

2. Get selected and notified

The winners of The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program are selected at random. Computer programs are used to provide a specific number of visas to each region in the world. 

You will be able to check the status of your entry at the beginning of May the year after you submitted your application. 

You can also use the entrant status check page for the DV Program to view any updates. You’ll need to use your confirmation number to check the status of your entry.

If you are picked and win the lottery, you will be sent a numerical rank letting you know when you will be able to apply for your visa. 

As soon as you receive this act quickly, multiple people will be trying to get the available visas. The quicker you act, the easier it’ll be to obtain your visa. 

3. Apply for the green card

The last step in your journey through The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is to get your green card. 

You should review the State Department’s visa bulletin every month to determine (based on your number) when your application can be submitted. 

If you live outside the U.S., which most lottery winners do, you’ll have to apply for your green card using the consular process. This means you will apply at the U.S. embassy in your country. 

As soon as the visa is available, you can submit the necessary application and supporting documents to the CEAC (Consular Electronic Application Center) for processing. Once completed, you will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. consulate. 

You’ll have to attend a visa interview before the U.S. consulate approves your application. This is to make sure you meet all the eligibility guidelines. 

If you do win the lottery but live in the United States, you should apply for your green card with the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).

You will have to fill out the required applications, and if all goes according to plan, you will be interviewed by USCIS and eventually receive your green card by mail. 

It is very important that you do everything correctly. One little mistake may result in your green card application being denied. If you’re confused or stressed about the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or visa lottery program, and how it works, then get the professional legal help you need to be sure that you do this right. 

The team at Meimaris Law would be happy to help you through the complicated journey of immigration, whether that’s through the use of the green card lottery or any other means. 

With over 25 years of experience in immigration law, we will be happy to help you on your journey to your new life in the U.S.

Get in touch today for a free consultation with our team and talk about how we can help you with your green card application.

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