The official name of the Green Card Lottery, is the Diversity Visa Program, also known as DV-Visa, Diversity Visa Lottery, Electronic Diversity Visa, or DV Lottery.
The annual DV Green Card lottery gives the opportunity for foreigners to receive a Green Card to come and live in the United States. The U.S. Congressionally-mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 diversity visas (DV) or Green Cards annually. The visas are drawn from random selection among all entries to people who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Not all countries are eligible to apply for the Green Card Lottery. There are several requirements to be eligible to apply. The Visas or Green Cards are distributed in six main geographic regions, and a higher amount of visas are going to areas with a lower rate of immigration to the United States. In each area, there is not a single country that would receive more than seven percent of the Green Cards. Countries that are sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. during the last five years are not eligible to win the Green Card Lottery. Read the current instructions for the DV-Lottery to find out which countries are eligible to participate this year and to find out more eligibility requirements.
The application system is only available for 30 days per year and during a specific period; the usual application time starts during October and November of each year and lasts for thirty days only. The law and regulations require that every diversity visa entrant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or have, within the past five years, two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years’ training or experience.
The DV lottery is computer generated and randomly select the winners for the DV (Diversity Visa) using the Application Entry System (AES) that enables entrants to the DV Lottery to electronically validate and submit entry date for themselves and their Derivatives. Entrants wishing to participate in the DV Lottery can access the AES from the internet 24 hours a day and seven days a week during the 30-day lottery period. After participating, starting on May 1st of the next year entrants can check the status of their participation entry using the Entrant Status Check (ESC) on the official DV website. In order to check their status, entrants are required to have their confirmation number that was provided when completing their entry.
Requirements for Education or Work Experience
U.S. Immigration law and regulations require that every Diversity Visa entrant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or have within the past five years, two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience. A high school education or equivalent is defined as successful completion of a twelve-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States or successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to high school education in the United States. Only formal courses of study meet this requirement; correspondence programs or equivalency certificates (such as the General Equivalency Diploma G.E.D.) are not acceptable. Documentary proof of education or work experience must be presented to the consular officer at the time of the visa interview in order to qualify for a DV immigrant visa.
The Department of Labor (DOL) O*Net Online website and database groups job experience into five “job zones”. Many occupations can be found on the DOL website, however, only certain specified occupations qualify for the Diversity Visa Program. To qualify for a Diversity Visa based on work experience, you must, within the past five years, have two years of experience in an occupation that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) range of 7.0 or higher.
What to do if your Entry has been Selected?
If the status of your entry shows as selected in the Entry Status Check on the official DV website then the ESC will display a letter with information on what to do next. Next, the official website will display instructions and your appointment letter with information about an interview. Procedures and notification methods may change from year to year.
It is important to note that in general the DV lottery selects more than 50,000 entries as some of the participants will not be eligible to receive permanent residency, therefore just being selected does not mean that you will receive a green card. Each applicant has to go through an interview and application process and not all selected entries will be able to receive a green card. If your entry has been selected for further processing in the DV Lottery program you will need to demonstrate that you are eligible for a diversity immigrant visa. During the application process, you will need to complete the immigrant visa application, submit required documents and forms, pay required fees, complete a medical examination, and be interviewed by a consular officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate, in order to demonstrate eligibility for the diversity visa program.
A Green Card Processing fee will only be charged to winning lottery applicants when actually applying for the Green Card at a U.S. consular office, but not to process their entry to participate in the DV-Lottery. The U.S. consulate or embassy will charge each applicant, including accompanying relatives, a non-refundable DV Lottery processing fee and the immigrant visa fee.