The Green Card Lottery and You

The Green Card Lottery, now called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (aka the DV Program) offers up to 50,000 immigrant hopefuls the chance to win residence status in the United States, with special preference for those regions which have lower rates of immigration. The Green Card Lottery is held once a year.


All applications are examined to determine if there are reasons the lottery winner would be immediately ineligible for residence (for instance, the applicant is from a country that is ineligible). Winners are chosen randomly from that number and then become eligible to submit a full application


If any one country has had more up to 50,000 of its citizens immigrate to the U.S in the previous 5 years, no one from that country is eligible for the lottery. Exceptions to this are those seeking asylum regardless of whether the 50,000 limit has been reached. The countries that most commonly fall into this category are Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Burma and Ethiopia.

Natives of the following nations are ineligible for the Green Card Lottery:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (mainland)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (Northern Ireland exempted)
  • Vietnam


If you were born in a country that has had 50,000 immigrants in the past 5 years, there are still two ways to qualify:

  • If your spouse was born in an eligible country, you pay enter the lottery, though both you and your spouse must be on the lottery entry
  • If you were born in an ineligible country but your parents were not or did not reside in that country at the time of your birth.


Be wary of “visa service” providers who will fill out and submit the application for you. If you do have someone help you, be sure to be present while it is being filled out so you can answer any questions or clarify points. Also, make sure you are there when the application is submitted and that YOU get the confirmation page and conformation number. You will not be able to check the status of your application without it. Unscrupulous “consultants” have been known to keep the confirmation number and try to get more money out of their customers