With the diversity visa lottery program each year approximately 50,000 green cards are offered each year to people from countries that in recent years have sent the fewest immigrants to the United States. The purpose of this program is to ensure a diverse ethnic mix among those who immigrate to the U.S. (although applicants must also meet certain educational requirements). The method used for choosing people who can apply for these green cards is a random selection by computer, so the program is popularly known as the green card lottery.

If you receive a visa through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, you will obtain a green card and be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be allowed to bring your wife or husband and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.

What Qualification Is Needed?

In order to enter the lottery, you must be from one of the qualifying countries, and must have either a high school diploma or a minimum of two years’ experience in a job that normally requires at least two years of training or experience. U.S. job offers are not a requirement. Whether the type of work you’ve been doing for two years qualifies will be determined based on a U.S. Department of Labor database at www.onetcenter.org. Only the lottery winner—not his or her spouse or children—needs to meet the educational requirements. There is no minimum age to enter the lottery. However, the requirement of a high school diploma or two years’ experience usually keeps out anyone under the age of 16.

Entering the lottery is just the first step. When it comes time to claim your green card, you will have to show that you are not inadmissible, which includes showing that you can support yourself financially in the U.S. or that someone there is willing to support you. It also includes showing that you haven’t committed certain crimes,

Ineligible Countries

Those born in any territory that has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years are not eligible to receive a diversity visa. For DV-2011, natives of the following nations are ineligible: Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

[2] The entry period to apply for the DV-2011 was from October 2, 2009 to November 30, 2009. The entry period to apply for the DV-2012 is from October 5, 2010 to November 3, 2010.

NOTE: There is no charge to enter the diversity visa lottery, and the only way to do so is by completing and sending the electronic form available at the U.S. Department of State’s website during the registration period. However, there are numerous companies and websites that charge a fee in order to complete the form for the applicant.

The rules for registering yourself in the lottery drawing change every year. For the latest, check the State Department website at http://travel.state.gov (click “Travel & Business,” then look under “Visas for Foreign Citizens” for the latest announcement). There is no fee to register.

Our immigration law firm, Gopal & Pedigo, PC, can assist you in obtaining your Diversity Visa Lottery. Please call or email our office and one of our experienced immigration attorneys will assist you. We are conveniently located near the Nashville International Airport in Nashville, TN.