The US Green Card Lottery and How It Works

Many people understand how a regular lottery works: you enter a drawing and if you are selected at random, you win a prize. Lotteries allow some lucky winners to win prizes such as cars. Most states have cash lotteries as well. The US government also offers a US Green Card Lottery Program, which allows people to win permanent legal residency in the US.

The US Green Card Lottery Program is officially known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program or the DV Lottery Program. Each year, this program allows 50, 000 applicants to receive a green card (and thereby permanent legal residency in the US) as part of a random lottery selection process. If you apply for the program, you might be able to secure one of these green cards.

The 1996 Immigration Act created The Immigrant Diversity Visa Lottery Program in order to create greater diversity in immigration. Many US immigrants come from a few geographic regions and in many cases these regions remain the same year after year. The DV Lottery Program is designed to allow immigrants from other regions to have a chance to immigrate to the US. The 50, 000 green cards available as part of the DV Lottery Program are distributed among six different world geographic areas, with more green cards going to those areas where little immigration to the US takes place. Any country that has sent at least 50, 000 immigrants to the US over the past five years is not eligible for the lottery program. As well, no country may receive more than 7% of the 50, 000 green cards slated for one year. Green cards offered through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program are awarded through a random computer draw.

To qualify for the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, you must live in a qualifying country. You must also meet either a training requirement or an education requirement. If you have two years of training or work experience or a high school education you may meet this requirement in most fields of work. The USCIS website has a detailed list of eligibility requirements as well as more details about the program.

If you win a visa through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, you and your children and spouse will be eligible to live and work permanently in the US. To apply for the program, you must file Form I-485 when a visa becomes available. You must also apply online for the DV Lottery Program at the official US Department of State website. The US Department of State is the organization that oversees the DV Lottery Program. Applications for the Diversity Visa Lottery Program are only accepted at specific times of the year – usually between October and December. You can check the US Department of State website to learn when the next Lottery Program will take place.

Applying for the Diversity Visa Lottery Program is free and can be completed online. In fact, no paper or post office applications are accepted. To apply, you must complete an online form. If you have dependants (such as children or a spouse) who will travel with you to the US in the event that you are awarded a green card, you must also fill out a supplemental form. In addition, you must attach two digitized photos of yourself.

Since so many green card applicants hope to secure a visa through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, it is not surprising Green Card Lottery fraud has become a serious problem. Many companies claim to help applicants increase their chances for a DV Lottery Program green card or claim that they can make the DV Lottery Program application easier. These companies charge fees for their “services,” even though there is no way to increase one’s chances of getting a green card through the DV Lottery Program. The program is completely random and green cards are awarded through a random computer selection, so there is no way to influence the selection process. Those who are worried about attaining a green card through the DV Lottery Program should remember that there are many ways to secure a green card. The USCIS website lists all the ways that applicants can secure a green card.