The Diversity Visa Lottery program runs each year and provides 50,000 “green cards” to applicants randomly selected in a lottery process. A green card gives a person the legal right to live and work permanently in the United States. Since no job offer or ties to relatives in the U.S. are required, the program is intended to allow a more diverse group of people from around the world to qualify for permanent residence. The annual DV lottery program is a good opportunity for potential immigrants to obtain the permanent resident status in the USA.

How the DV Lottery works

First a person applies to take part in the lottery by filing an electronic application form and submitting her picture. Then the program randomly selects from among the applicants those who can further apply for a green card. A winner can obtain a green card in the US Consulate abroad or, if she is already in the US, she can adjust her status to permanent residency with the US Immigration Services Office in the US.

Eligibility to participate in the DV Lottery

If you have a high school education or have two or more years of professional work experience and are a citizen of a qualifying country, we can help you prepare an application.
For DV-2010, natives of the following countries were not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years: BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, PERU, POLAND, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan were eligible. For DV-2010, Russia has returned to the list of eligible countries.

Have you just won the lottery? Understand your next steps.

The selections are made and a written notice is sent around July and August to the applicant or the attorney who sent in the application. Those selected are considered for the fiscal year which begins the following October 1st. Any green cards not issued by the end of the next fiscal year (September 30), are voided.

A number is assigned to each selected person. The first individuals selected will have lower rank numbers. Every year more people are notified than there are visas available so those with lower rank numbers have a better chance of actually getting a green card. The diversity visas are limited to the area of the world (Europe, Africa, Australia, and others) and also by country. If too many people from a certain geographic area or country are selected and actually proceed to apply, visas may run out for this particular area or country.

Each month the Department of State publishes Visa Bulletin showing the rank cutoff number. Only people with rank numbers below the cutoff can further apply for a green card and schedule an interview. Applications can be made at the U.S. Consulate abroad or at the U.S. Immigration Services office if the person is in the U.S. The rank number must be below the cutoff when applying for the green card and also at the time the visa is issued or when the adjustment of status for permanent residency takes place. For example, during Fiscal Year 1995, all rank numbers became available during February allowing any selected person to apply. Then by the time the immigration office processed their applications, many people’s rank number had gone above the new cutoff. These applicants, some of whom had already been interviewed and paid fees, were not able to get the green card. Avoid this situation. There are step you can do to help the US Immigration Services to process your application faster.

If you win the lottery, there is very limited time to fulfill all the requirements, complete the application process and obtain the green card before the September 1 cutoff. FBI background check might take several months alone. Therefore, as soon as you have received a USCIS lottery selection notice, consult an attorney to put together your action plan. Please also note that the application procedure is different depending on whether you are in the US or abroad.
Our attorneys have helped numerous DV Lottery applicants to obtain their green cards. They understand what is at stake for you when you apply or win the lottery. Whether you are currently in the US or abroad, we will be able to represent you before the US Immigration Services and in the US Consulates.

What if you have won in the US in unauthorized status?

The law which allowed individuals out of status to apply for the DV green card in the US (Section 245i of the Immigation law) is no longer in effect. The DV “winner” who is out of status can no longer apply in the US for her green card. If they go back home to apply, they will be subject to the 3 year and 10 year bar to re-entry if they were out of status for 6 months or more. In short, they cannot get the green card here and they cannot get it at home.


USCIS DV Lottery site
USCIS DV Lottery instructions

If you would like to file for DV lottery or have won the lottery, set up a  consultation. Call our office at 206.605.0550, email or fill out our contact form.

We look forward to assisting you with your DV lottery needs.