The Diversity Visa Program was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 to make the U.S. population more diverse. Each year citizens of countries with a low rate of immigration to the United States have the opportunity to be considered for a U.S. Green Card.
There are 50,000 nonimmigrant visas available to lottery participants each year. Winners are selected randomly. Anyone who is a citizen of a country that has a historically low rate of immigration to the United States can apply, as long as they meet the requirements set forth in U.S. immigration law.
If you want a chance to get the US Green Card this way, you must apply within a specific time period. Otherwise, if you do not meet the deadline, your application will not be taken into consideration. Each candidate can submit only one entry.
What are the requirements for the Diversity Visa program?
To be eligible for the Diversity Visa Program, each candidate must meet the following requirements:
- Be a citizen of a country that has a low rate of immigration to the United States. If you are unsure whether this applies to your home country, you should check the list published annually by the US Department of State.
- Have a high school education, meaning the applicant must have completed a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completing a 12-year course in the United States.
- Have two or more years of qualifying work experience
- Not eligible to obtain U.S. citizenship through another route
- Have a valid passport, unless the people participating in the lottery are stateless or cannot obtain a passport from the authorities due to undemocratic rules.
How to participate in the Green Card lottery?
There is a limited period of time during which candidates can access the Program. Each year, the lottery is open for four or five weeks, usually in the spring, but the exact dates vary. To find out what the registration period dates are for that year, you need to visit the Department of State website.
To participate in the lottery, you must submit an online registration on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website. There you need to fill out an online form. It is not possible to submit the registration in paper format.
Only one entry can be submitted during the registration period. If you submit more than one, excess entries will be disqualified as the US State Department has technology that can detect this. Once you submit your entry, you will receive a confirmation number. It is essential that you keep it as without it you will not be able to check the status of your membership and find out if.
What are the fees for the Diversity Visa?
While access to the Diversity Visa Program is free, applying to change your immigration status in the United States is not. If your membership is selected and you wish to proceed with the process of obtaining your US Green Card, you will need to pay the Diversity Visa fee of $330. This fee is non-refundable, even if the visa is not issued.
In most cases, you will need to pay the fee before the interview, but payment procedures vary depending on your home country. Sometimes you may be asked to pay the fee at the time of the interview. Be sure to check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be applying to find specific instructions. If you are still not sure when to pay your taxes, you can ask your immigration lawyer for advice and he will explain the payment procedure to you.
You may also have to pay other fees associated with the application process, such as fees for scheduling a medical exam or receiving copies of requested documents.
What documents do I need to present if I am selected?
Together with the application form that you will need to submit to receive the Green Card, you will need to submit the following supporting documentation:
- A birth certificate issued by the official custodian of birth documents in your home country.
- Court and prison records if you have previously been convicted of a crime
- Military documents if you served in the military forces
- Police certificates covering the entire period of your residence in a certain area
- A photocopy of a valid passport.
- Be sure to seek advice from an immigration lawyer when preparing your document file as failure to include some of the required documents may delay your application.
The selection of diverse immigrant visa applicants is made randomly from all registered individuals based on available visas for each country. Lottery results are updated on or about May 7 on the Diversity e-Visa website. By visiting the Participant Status Check section of the page, you will be able to check whether you have received your Green Card or not.
Visiting the Diversity eVisa website is the only way to check the outcome of the lottery. Selected candidates will not be notified by mail or telephone. If you have lost your confirmation number, you will not be able to know whether your registration has been selected or not.
If your entry is successful, you will be directed to a page that will include further instructions on what steps you need to take to come to the United States.
How to prepare for the visa interview?
- You should prepare properly for the visa interview. Failure to do so may result in your request being delayed or denied. To ensure that you are ready for the interview, you should
- Check the information on the Diversity eVisa website and note the date, time and location of the interview.
- Check the interview instructions posted by the U.S. embassy or consulate where the interview will take place.
- Schedule a physical with a doctor and get all required vaccinations.
- Obtain two passport-sized photographs.
At the time of the interview, you will be asked to present the following documents:
- Appointment confirmation you can download and print from the Check Entrant Status section of the Diversity e-Visa website.
- Confirmation showing that you submitted Form DS-260
- Proof of required education
- A passport valid for at least six months after intended entry into the United States.
What happens when my entry is selected?
If you check the lottery results and find that you are a winner, you can begin the process of applying for a Green Card. Selecting your entry does not mean you can immediately enter the United States. To change your immigration status and move to the United States permanently, you must first follow the following steps:
- Submit your visa request, using form DS 260
- Submit supporting documentation
- Plan and prepare for your visa interview.
Attend the interview
At the end of the last stage of the process, the visa interview, an official will inform you whether your visa application has been approved or rejected. If your application is successful, you will be provided with details about your visa. If your request is rejected, the authorities will explain their decision.
Can my family come with me to the United States if I win the Diversity Visa Program?
If your entry is selected and you win a Green Card, your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 will also automatically receive the Green Card. If you are not married but are in a relationship at the time of receiving the lottery results , you can get married before submitting Form DS-260 to make your partner eligible for a green card.
The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that when you submit your entry you must list any unmarried children under the age of 21. This includes both your children and your spouse’s children. Otherwise, you will be disqualified from the lottery. Even if you don’t plan to bring your children to the United States, you will need to include them in your application.
While your unmarried children and spouse will receive a Green Card if you win the Diversity Visa program, the same does not apply to your parents or siblings. However, once you are in the United States, they will be able to apply for a Family Green Card to join you. To learn more about ways to bring your parents and siblings to the United States, talk to our immigration lawyers.