What Is the Diversity Visa Lottery?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is often simply called the Diversity Visa Lottery or DV Lottery. President George H. W. Bush signed it into law in 1990 as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Through the program, each year, the U.S. Department of State issues up to 50,000 immigrant visas to people who register as applicants. Visa recipients are chosen at random electronically. DV Lottery numbers are listed by region and country in the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin.

What Is the Diversity Visa Lottery?


DV Lottery Eligibility

Not everyone who wants to immigrate to the U.S. is eligible to register with the DV Lottery. The program is designed for people living in countries that have historically had low rates of immigration to the United States. Originally, it was created to help Irish and Italian immigrants as the number of applicants from Asia and Latin American rose. Today, however, most recipient countries are in Africa and Eastern Europe.

The visas available through the DV Lottery are distributed among six different geographic areas. No one country can receive more than 7 percent of that year’s DVs. Instructions for the lottery include a list of regions and countries eligible to participate.

DV Lottery Applicants

Currently, all primary DV applicants must have a high school education, its equivalent or at least two years’ work experience. This requirement does not apply to a primary applicant’s spouse or children.

Common Questions

How much does the DV Lottery cost?
There is no charge to register for the DV Program.

What is the deadline to register for the DV Lottery Program?
Currently, the State Department’s website states,

  • “The revised online registration period for the DV-2019 Program begins on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and concludes on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-4).”

Any applications submitted before noon on October 18, 2017, must be resubmitted before the November 22, 2017, deadline.

When are DV Lottery recipients announced?
Applicants can check their status for 2019 through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E—DV) website starting May 14, 2018. The system tracks applicants by the confirmation number issued when an application is filed.