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Diversity Visa Program

Diversity Visa Program (Green Card Lottery) Summarized

  • Each year, approximately 50,000 Permanent Resident Cards (also known as green cards) are granted to eligible applicants through this program.
  • Applicants must come from countries deemed eligible by the U.S. Department of State. Certain countries with low immigration rates into the U.S. qualify.
  • No fee is required to submit the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV entry form).
  • The E-DV form must be submitted online, and processing usually takes from six to eight months.

What Is the Green Card Lottery?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card Lottery) is administered by the U.S. Department of State and was established by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990. The purpose of the act is to encourage the immigration of people into the United States from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Each year, approximately 50,000 green cards are made available to immigrants through this program. These applicants are randomly chosen by a computer program from qualified entries. Entrants must be citizens of qualifying countries that have had low immigration rates into the U.S. Eligibility is also based upon certain educational and employment requirements.

Submitting an application for the Green Card Lottery carries no fee, but all applications must be submitted online within a certain timeframe. Registration typically opens in early October and closes in early November, but exact dates differ each year.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Applicants must come from qualified countries that have had fewer than 50,000 immigrants enter the U.S. during the previous five-year period. The list of qualified countries appears in the application instructions for each year’s lottery.
  2. Applicants must have the equivalent of a high school education or have at least two years’ experience working in a qualified profession that requires at least two years of training or experience.
  3. If the immigration quota has already been met for a particular country, an applicant from that country may still qualify if his or her spouse is a native of an eligible country. Alternatively, an applicant may qualify if his or her parents were born in an eligible country.

Application Instructions

Applicants must submit Form DS-5501 (E-DV entry form) through the Department of State’s website. This form includes the applicants’ biographical information, such as name, sex, birthdate and birthplace, current country of citizenship, marital status, and contact information. Applicants must also submit a digital photograph of themselves.

The Department of State’s website will reveal the winners of the lottery at the designated time. Applicants must check the website for lottery results. Winners of the lottery will receive Permanent Resident Cards (green cards), which allow them to live and work in the United States. Their spouses and children may also apply for green cards and immigrate to the United States.