The Diversity Visa (DV) Green Card Lottery

The diversity visa (DV) lottery, or green card lottery, was created in 1990 in order to encourage immigration from nations with low levels of immigration to the United States.

As the goal of the lottery is diversity, a new list of qualifying nations is created for each year's lottery based upon the prior year's immigration levels, with the greatest number of visas allocated to geographic regions with the lowest immigration rates.

Eligibility for a Diversity Visa

Residents of qualifying nations may fill out and submit a simple for inclusion in the lottery. In order to qualify, applicants must have a high school education or equivalent, or within five years of application have at least two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.

Registration for the DV green card lottery usually occurs between October and early November of each year.

Successful registrants are usually notified of the results between April and July of the following year.

Submitting an Application

Applications for a diversity visa must be submitted electronically to the U.S. Department of State.

Only one application is permitted per individual per year. If an applicant submits more than one registration form, that person will be disqualified from participation in the lottery.

Unsuccessful applicants must submit a new application each year. Applications from prior years are not included in subsequent green card lotteries.

Commercial Services

While there are a large number of services that offer to assist with application for the green card lottery for a fee, no service can improve an applicant's chance of being chosen in the lottery or guarantee an entry will win. If you encounter a service making that type of promise, the service is trying to cheat you.

Most applicants are capable of completing the application process without the help of a commercial service.

Copyright © 2002 Aaron Larson, All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. If you use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article, except as otherwise authorized in writing by the author of the article you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article.

This article was last reviewed or amended on Apr 6, 2018.