Register your Account

Sign Up with us and enjoy!

A password will be e-mailed to you.

DV Lottery Requirements

The US Diversity Visa (DV) program (also known as the American Green Card Lottery) is the easiest way to get a Permanent Resident Visa (also known as a Green Card) for the United States.  If you are issued a Green Card, you and your eligible family members will be able to live, work and study permanently in the United States and enjoy the many opportunities available in the USA.  One nice thing about the DV Lottery is that employer or family sponsorship is not necessary.

There are basically only two main requirements to take part in the DV Lottery:

(1) You must be born in a country that is currently eligible to participate in the DV Lottery;

(2) You must meet either the education or job experience criteria.

Unfortunately, many people who are eligible to take part in the DV Lottery are disqualified at the very beginning of the application phase and don’t get to participate in this program. Common reasons that potential DV Lottery participants don’t make it over this first important hurdle in the immigration process include the following errors:

1. Not filling out all of the application fields correctly;
2. Listing as their country of birth a country not currently eligible to participate in the DV Lottery;
3. Not meeting the education or work experience requirements;
4. They don’t provide photographs that meet the strict US State Department standards for the DV Lottery; or
5. Their application and/or photo(s) are not in the official E-DV format.

At USAFIS, we think it is very unfortunate that individuals who are qualified to participate in the DV Lottery and who want to enjoy a better life in America get disqualified simply because they made a mistake on their Green Card Lottery application or didn’t fully understand how the DV Lottery program works. That’s why USAFIS was established over 15 years ago – our immigration experts know exactly what is required by the US Government for a successful DV Lottery application submission. We take pride in having hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers, as thousands of our clients win the DV Lottery each year!

What are the requirements to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery (Green Card Lottery)?

The applicant’s country of birth is a major factor when applying for the American Diversity Visa Lottery. One must be a native of a qualifying country in order to apply to the DV Lottery. In last year’s Diversity Visa Lottery, the following countries were disqualified to enter:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (mainland-born)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories
  • Vietnam

NOTE: Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan were eligible to participate in last year’s DV-Lottery if they also met the education or work experience requirements.

Learn more about the DV-2020 birth country requirements HERE.

A way to bypass this USCIS requirement: if your spouse was born in an eligible country you can enter the U.S. DV Lottery under their birth country. Please note that both you and your spouse must be under the same application, and if the application is selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery, must enter the United States simultaneously.

Another way to bypass this requirement: if one of your parents was born in an eligible country or resided in one at the time of your birth, you may also claim that country to be your “country of nativity” for the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Education and work requirements for the DV Lottery program

In order to apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery, you must have a high school education (certificate of completion of 12 years elementary and secondary education) OR a period of two years work experience within the last 5 years. Please note that the occupation may only qualify if it requires 2 years of training or experience to practice. U.S. Department of Labor definitions, as indicated in the O*Net Online database, will apply.

Learn more about the education and work requirements HERE

Important notes on qualifying for the DV Lottery:

1. Applications (including photos) for the American Diversity Visa Lottery may only be submitted electronically using the DS-5501 E-DV Entry Form.  The US State Department no longer accepts paper applications for the DV Lottery and individuals who submit paper DV Lottery applications will be disqualified and will not participate in the Lottery.  USAFIS submits its clients’ applications and photos according to these official requirements.

2. If more than one Diversity Visa application is submitted for an individual to the same DV Lottery (unless they are listed on their eligible spouse’s separate Green Card Lottery application), all such applications for the Green Card Lottery will be disqualified.  For example, a single person (not married) may not submit two or more applications to the DV Lottery under their name in any given year (either by mistake or because they want to increase their chances of winning by cheating) or they will be disqualified.  On the other hand, a husband and wife who were both born in eligible countries and both meet the education or work experience requirements may each submit a separate application to the DV Lottery and include the name and photo for the other spouse (and names and photos for all unmarried children under the age of 21 at the time of registration) to the DV Lottery and if either spouse wins, the other spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21 at the time of registration also win!

3. According to the US State Department DV-2020 regulations, a person “who already registered for an immigrant visa in another category…may apply for the DV program.”

4. You must submit photos that meet the US State Department standards for the DV Lottery program for everyone who will be on the application.  If you fail to submit photos for anyone that is on the DV Lottery application OR if any of the photos on the DV Lottery application do not meet the US Government specifications for the DV Lottery, your application will be disqualified.

5. Applicants are responsible to provide USAFIS with accurate information for their DV Lottery application AND to keep their DV Lottery application and photos up-to-date so that all information and photos in the DV Lottery application are accurate when USAFIS submits the application to the DV Lottery program during the registration period.

6. Individuals who win the American Green Card Lottery have completed an important step in this competitive process for immigration to the USA, but they have not yet been approved for a Diversity Visa (Green Card).  There are additional procedures that must be completed successfully, such as the Consular Interview, before a Green Card can be issued.

7.  The timeline for the DV-2020 Green Card Lottery (which occurs in early 2019) is as follows.  The registration period only occurs between 12PM EST on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, until 12PM EST on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  Applications for DV-2020 may not be submitted before or after these dates.  The actual Green Card Lottery for DV-2020 will occur in early 2019 and the results of that Lottery will be released by the US State Department in May 2019.  The winners of the DV-2020 Green Card Lottery will next need to send some documents to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) in the United States so that the Consular Interview can be scheduled in the winner’s country of residence, usually starting in October of the winning year (starting in October 2019 for DV-2020 winners).  If the winner of DV-2020 passes the Consular Interview successfully and all goes well, they and the eligible members of their family that were on their application may enter (immigrate to) the United States in 2020.


Learn more about our Online Green Card Application service