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. The 2015 visa lottery (DV-2015) submission dates were October 1, 2015, through November 2, 2015. The opening for 2016 has not yet been announced.
- Applicants must come from qualified countries that have had fewer than 50,000 immigrants enter the U.S. during the previous five-year period.
- Applicants must have the equivalent of a high school education or have at least two years’ experience working in a job that has those educational requirements.
- 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 that country. Alternatively, an applicant may qualify if his or her parents were born in an eligible country.
Countries Not Eligible
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
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.