The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, commonly known as the lottery, makes available each year by random selection 50,000 permanent residence visas to persons from countries that have low rates of immigration to the United States. Eligibility to apply for this Program is determined by a person’s place of birth not citizenship or residence. The list of excluded countries may vary from year to year. These are countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States during the five years immediately proceeding the registration period.
The following are frequently asked questions about the program.
How do I apply for the program?
Each year in late Fall/Winter there is a registration period during which qualified applicants may apply to register for the Program. Entries are selected at random by computer, regardless of the date and time of receipt during that period. Successful applicants are invited to apply for an immigrant visa and will be required to establish their eligibility for a visa under current laws and regulations. The registration period for the nest Diversity Immigrant Visa Program will be announced around autumn.
If I was born in one of the excluded countries, can I still apply for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
If you are married, you may be eligible to claim your spouse’s place of birth if he/she was born in one of the qualifying countries. Note: In order to benefit from this provision, you must both be issued visas and enter the United States together.
Can both my spouse and I submit applications for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
Yes. A husband and wife may each submit a separate application listing their spouse as the dependent.
Must each applicant submit his/her own entry for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or may someone act on behalf of the applicant?
Applicants may prepare and submit their own entries, or have someone submit the entry for them. Only one entry may be submitted in the name of the person. A husband and wife may each submit a separate application listing their spouse and children as dependents.
What family members must I include on my entry for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
You must list your spouse, even if you are currently separated from him/her and he/she does not intend immigrating with you. If you are legally divorced, you do not need to list your former spouse. For customary marriages, the important date is the date of the original marriage ceremony, not the date on which the marriage is registered. You must list all unmarried children under the age of 21 whether they are your natural children, your spouse’s children by a previous marriage, or children you have formally adopted in accordance with the laws of your country. You must also list them even if they are no longer living with you or do not intend to immigrate with you. You are not required to list children who are U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents.
If I list my spouse and children, does this mean they must immigrate with me?
No. Including your spouse and/or children on your application does not mean that they must immigrate with you. However, if you do not include your spouse and/or children on your application to register and include them on your application for an immigrant visa, your application will be disqualified. This requirement only applies if your spouse and/or children were dependents at the time you submit your application to register for the lottery; it does not apply if your spouse and/or children were acquired after your application was submitted. It is important to note, however, that if you are born in an excluded country and your spouse is not, and you are using your spouse’s place of birth to apply to register for the program, you and your spouse will be required to immigrate to the U.S. together, if your application is successful.
Are photographs required for each family member applying for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or only for the principal applicant?
Recent and individual photographs of the principal applicant, his or her spouse, and all natural children as well as legally adopted and stepchildren who are under 21 and unmarried are required, even if the children no longer reside with the applicant. Note: Group family photographs are not acceptable.
What are the requirements for education or work experience for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
Education: An applicant is required to have a high school education or equivalent. This is defined as successful completion of a twelve-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States, or if outside the United States, successful completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a high school education in the United States. Work Experience: An applicant is required to have two years of work experience in the last five years in an occupation requiring at least two years training or experience. The determination on whether or not the applicant has the requisite work experience will be based on the Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLIne data base.
How can I find out if my educational qualifications/ work experience meets the criteria for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
The Consulate is unable to answer individual questions regarding the educational or work experience requirement until after the winners have been selected and appear for their immigrant visa interviews. If you require information on work experience, you may wish to visit the Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLIne data base. If you believe that you have the basic educational qualifications or meet the work experience requirement, then you should submit an application.
Are there any fees involved in applying for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
You are not required to pay a fee to submit an application to register for the Program. However, if your application is successful and you selected to apply for an immigrant visa, you, your spouse and children, if any, will be required to pay a fee. Further details will be mailed to successful applicants. Information on fees is available at the State Department’s travel website.
Is there a minimum age for applicants to apply for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
There is no minimum age to apply for the program, but the requirement of a high school education or work experience effectively disqualified most persons who are under the age of 18.
Can I apply for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program if I am in the United States?
Yes, an applicant who is in the United States may apply for registration, provided he or she is eligible for the Program.
I have attempted, unsuccessfully, to log onto the website to resister for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program? What can I do?
It will only be possible to log onto the website during the registration period.
Do you think it will help my chances of being successful in applying for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program if I hire an attorney or consultant?
The decision to hire an attorney or consultant in a visa matter is entirely up to the applicant. The procedures for entering the lottery can be completed without assistance by following simple instructions. However, if applicants prefer to use outside assistance, that is their choice. There are many legitimate attorneys and immigration consultants assisting applicants for reasonable fees, or in some cases, no fee. Unfortunately, there are other persons who are charging exorbitant rates and making unrealistic claims. The selection of winners in the lottery is made at random, using a computer. No outside service can improve an applicant’s chances of being selected, and nobody can guarantee an entry will win. Any service that claims it can improve an applicant’s odds would be promising something it cannot deliver.
I have applied for an immigrant visa in the immediate relative/family/employment based preference category; can I also apply to register for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?
Yes. Your registration for immigration in another immigrant visa category does not prohibit you from applying to register for this Program.
What can I do if I believe a company has taken money from me under false pretenses?
If you believe that you have a complaint against a company that has been advertising its service for the visa lottery, you should contact your local consumer affairs office or the Federal Trade Commission in the United States. The address of the Federal Trade Commission is Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580; phone number: 202 382 4357. There is also a complaint form on the internet at www.ftc.gov.
I have applied to register for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, when will I know if I have been selected?
DV applicants will not receive a notification letter or email from the U.S. government but must check their status online. DV Entry Status Check will only be provided through the Department of State secure online site.
I am a winner and have been invited to apply for a Diversity immigrant visa. Why am I being told to apply early, when I have until September 30 in which to do so?
Successful applicants are usually notified of their registration between spring and summer, from the Kentucky Consular Center, Lexington, Kentucky. If you have not been notified of your registration, then you were not selected for the Program. The Consulate will not have a list of those who have been registered.
If I apply for a Diversity immigrant visa before September 30 and my application is denied under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, will I be guaranteed a visa number when I am ready to proceed?
No, even if you have applied for the visa, unless the visa is issued to you, no guarantees can be offered that a visa number will be available for your use when you are ready to proceed with your application.
I was selected for last year's Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, but didn't get my visa by September 30, can I still go?
No. As you did not pursue your application, you can no longer benefit from your registration for the Program. You had only until September 30 in which to be issued an immigrant visa.
Will I be able to download and save the E-DV entry from to a Microsoft word program (or other suitable program) and then fill it out?
No, you will not be able to save the form into another program for completion and submission later. The E-DV Entry Form is a Web form only. This makes it more “universal” than a proprietary word processor format. Additionally, it does require that the information be filled in and submitted while on-line.
Can I save the form on-line so that I can fill out part and then come back later and complete the remainder?
No, this cannot be done. The E-DV Entry Form is designed to be completed and submitted at one time. However, because the form is in two parts, and because of possible network interruptions and delays, the E-DV system is designed to handle up to sixty (60) minutes between downloading of the form and when the entry is received at the E-DV web site after being submitted online. If more than sixty minutes elapses, and the entry has not been electronically received, the information received so far is discarded. This is done so that there is no possibility that a full entry could accidentally be interpreted as a duplicate of a previous partial entry. For example, suppose an applicant with a wife and child sends a filled in E-DV Entry Form Part One and then receives Form Part Two, but there is a delay before sending Part Two because of trouble finding the file which holds the child’s photograph. If the filled in Form Part Two is sent by the applicant and received by the E-DV website within sixty (60) minutes then there is no problem, but if the Form Part Two is received after sixty (60) minutes has elapsed then the applicant will be informed that they need to start over for the entire entry. The DV instructions explain clearly and completely what information needs to be gathered to fill in the form. This way you can be fully prepared, making sure you have all of the information needed, before you start to complete the form on-line.
If the submitted digital images do not conform to the specifications, the procedures state that the system will automatically reject the E-DV Entry form and notify the sender. Does this mean I will be able to re-submit my entry?
Yes, the entry can be resubmitted. Since the entry was automatically rejected it was not actually considered as submitted to the E-DV website. It does not count as a submitted E-DV entry, and no confirmation notice of receipt is sent. If there are problems with the digital photograph sent because it does not conform to the requirements, it is automatically rejected by the E-DV website. However, the amount of time it takes the rejection message to reach the sender is unpredictable due to the nature of the Internet. If the problems can be fixed by the applicant, and the Form Part One or Two re-sent within sixty (60) minutes then there is no problem. Otherwise the submission process will have to be started over. An applicant can try to submit an application as many times as is necessary until a complete application is received and the confirmation notice sent.
Will the electronic confirmation notice that the completed E-DV entry form has been received through the online system be sent immediately after submission?
The response from the E-DV website which contains confirmation of the receipt of an acceptable E-DV Entry Form is sent by the E-DV website immediately, but how long it takes the response to reach the sender is unpredictable due to the nature of the Internet. If many minutes have elapsed since pressing the ‘Submit’ button there is no harm in pressing the ‘Submit’ button a second time. The E-DV system will not be confused by a situation where the ‘Submit’ button is hit a second time because no confirmation response has been received. An applicant can try to submit an application as many times as is necessary until a complete application is received and the confirmation notice sent.