The American Visa in a passport page (USA) background. concept: DV lottery
Adina Appelbaum
By: adinaa
Read in 9 minutes

4 steps to enter the DV lottery

Green cards in the United States are very sought after. Legal citizenship in the land of the free and achieving the American dream are the goals of many seeking a better life. 

But obtaining legal status in the US can be a really complex process; there are so many rules, waiting periods, and fees that most people simply give up. 

Fortunately, there is a program under the Immigration and Nationality Act that can help people get a visa without that much hassle; they just register and, if they are one of the lucky registrants, they can get a green card. The program we’re talking about is the DV lottery.

At Camino Financial, we want to help you gain legal status as a resident; we prepared this article with detailed instructions on entering the DV lottery.

Shadows of People in a street and Flag of The USA as Background concept toned Picture. concept: DV lottery

What is the DV lottery?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the “DV lottery,” is quite simply a program administered by the Department of State that allows people to receive a Green Card. 

It’s a way that individuals living outside the U.S. can apply to get legal status in the U.S. 

The program is also called the “DV Program,” the “visa lottery,” and even the “green card lottery.”

Each year, the U.S. provides up to 55,000 immigrant visas available through the DV Lottery. They are drawn from a random selection of the applicant entries from people who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. 

Entering the program is free.

The DV Lottery is one of the ways that people can legally immigrate to the U.S. The primary way individuals can legally immigrate to the U.S. is through the family sponsorship process, for example, if someone has a family member who is a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card holder”) who sponsors them. 

Under the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a person does not need to have a family member who is a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident.

There are agencies that can help you apply to the DV lottery. They charge a fee, though.

Nov 17, 2019 San Francisco / CA / USA - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office located in downtown San Francisco; USCIS is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). concept: DV lottery

DV Lottery Requirements

  • Have been born in one of the qualified countries (not all countries are eligible for the DV lottery)
    • Exceptions: 
      • if the spouse was born in a qualifying country
      • if either of the parents was born in a qualifying country and lived in a qualifying country at the time of your birth
  • Have a high school degree, or its equivalent, or two years experience in a qualified occupation (not all occupations are eligible for the DV lottery)

Learn more about the qualification requirements here.

Qualified and unqualified countries

The program is available for interested individuals from countries with low immigration rates. 

How are these countries selected?  Countries with less than 50,000 natives immigrating to the US in the previous five years become eligible.

The following countries are excluded from the DV lottery program because they have a considerable rate of immigration to the United States:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti, Honduras
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories
  • Vietnam

Qualified occupations

To apply in the DV lottery, and if you don’t have a high school degree or equivalent, you need to have qualifying work experience. 

This means you need to have 2 years of experience (within the last 5 years) in an occupation with an SVP (Specific Vocational Preparation) of 7.0 or higher.

Find here a list of occupations and their SVP range (look for your industry, your occupation, and then find the SVP score under the Job Zone section).

The DV in the DV lottery name stands for Diversity Visa.

Permanent Resident Green card of United states covered of flag of USA. concept: DV lottery

4 steps to enter the DV lottery

1. Meet requirements

To apply, an individual must first meet the above-mentioned qualifications for the diversity visa. But summarized, the requirements are as follow:

The Program requires the DV applicant to have a high school education, or its equivalent, or two years of qualifying work experience as defined under provisions of U.S. law. Plus, they need to be citizens of a qualified country.

2. Apply online

If the person satisfies the requirements, they can submit an entry to the Diversity Visa Program electronically through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website during the specified registration period. 

To complete your entry to the DV lottery, you need to provide a photograph and the following information:

  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Birthdate
  • City and country where you were born
  • Country where you live
  • Passport information
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Highest level of education
  • Current marital status
  • Number of children

It is free to apply to the DV lottery. 

3. Wait for the results

After entries are submitted and the registration period closes, the U.S. government selects applicants and notifies them on the E-DV website. 

Winners are selected randomly by a computer from a pool of individual entries.

4. Finish the process to receive the green card

If someone is selected, they are not still guaranteed to receive the diversity visa to immigrate. The person still needs to meet all eligibility requirements, confirm their qualifications, submit their immigrant visa and registration application, go through an interview, and submit supporting documents. 

Learn more about the process here

If you win the DV lottery, you need to complete a consular process (interview and paperwork) in your country to receive the green card. This means that people currently in the US illegally would have a very difficult time obtaining a green card through the DV program.

Improving Your Chances of Being Selected

  • Be detail-oriented

Like with any immigration application, it is crucial to be detail-oriented, organized, and follow the detailed instructions for the application process. 

It is also critical to make sure that all the information submitted is correct.

  • Follow the instructions to the T

Each year, the Department of State publishes detailed instructions for entering the DV Program. It is important to look at these instructions to determine the dates of the registration period that open before someone applies. 

A person will not be able to apply late after the registration period closes.

  • Submit just one entry

Do not submit more than one entry per registration period, or you will be disqualified.

  • Save the unique confirmation number

After submitting a complete entry, it is very important to print and save the unique confirmation number for records purposes.

Mature African American smiling and looking at the camera. concept: DV lottery

Apply for A Green Card Through the Diversity Visa Program

To be eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card holder”) status under the DV Program, an individual must first have been selected for a diversity visa in the DV lottery and have an immigrant visa immediately available at the time of filing to adjust status to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident. 

An individual must also be “admissible” to the U.S., which is a legal term. This means the person cannot have any bars that make them inadmissible under the U.S. immigration laws.

If you are interested in immigrating to the U.S. and you are from a country that does not have high immigration rates to the U.S., the diversity visa could be a good option to consider applying to. 

We at Camino Financial support you and wish you and your family the best in the immigration process.

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