A lot of people want to move to the US. However, it’s not always easy, as getting a US visa can be challenging. You must have a valid reason to enter the country in the first place before you begin your journey to reside permanently. Nevertheless, applying for and meriting a visa isn’t the only way to get into the United States. You can partake in the US Green Card lottery, which is more of luck than merit. Does it interest you? If yes, read on to know all about this lottery and if you can apply.
What is the US Green Card Lottery?
The US Green Card Lottery is officially called the Diversity Visa (DV) Program. Submitting an application for a US Green Card via the Diversity Visa (DV) Program is similar to joining a lottery. Applicants have no idea whether they will be approved.
Participants in the DV Program must be citizens of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. All six continents are welcome to apply for the program, as it’s not region or country-specific.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines how many US Green Card Lottery visas will be granted per year, so the amount is limited. The USCIS is required to distribute them evenly, with no country receiving more than 7% of the total.
Those who are granted a DV visa can settle permanently in the US. If you are granted the visa, you will be categorized as an LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) of the United States.
When you have a green card, you’re free to move around the country, work in any state, receive a driver’s license, get married, and have a family. You can petition for US citizenship after living in the country for a specific amount of time.
Who Can Apply for the US Green Card Lottery?
To be eligible for the Green Card Lottery, you must be a native of one of the countries with fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years.
The United States generally does not accept citizens of high-immigration countries like Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines. Individuals from non-eligible nations may submit an application, but only if they meet the following criteria:
- The applicant’s spouse is from an eligible country. In such a case, they may submit an application together.
- Neither of the applicant’s parents was lawfully residing in the applicant’s country of birth. In such a case, the applicant may select either their mother’s or father’s country of origin.
Applicants for the US Green Card Lottery must not only be from a qualifying nation but also meet the educational threshold. If selected through the diversity visa lottery scheme, the applicant must meet one of the following requirements to be granted a green card:
- Having completed at least high school or its equivalent in their home country. Completion of any formal program of study equivalent to a 12-year course in the United States constitutes the equivalent of a high school education. The General Education Diploma (GED) and similar equivalency documents will not be accepted.
- At least two years’ worth of professional experience. The U.S. Department of Labor has established rules and guidelines that stipulate the job experience must be within the last 5 years and in a field that needs a minimum of 2 years of training.
Additionally, to be eligible for a green card through the Diversity Visa Lottery, winners and their accompanying family members must satisfy the Immigration and Nationality Act’s minimum standards for lawful permanent residence.
In particular, you shouldn’t be barred from participation because of significant arrests or criminal convictions on your background. Additionally, you must pass a medical assessment to prove you’re in good health to enter the US.
What To Include in the Diversity Visa Lottery Application
Applying for the Diversity Visa lottery is easy. To get the best results, each candidate should fill it out individually. A visa agency or consultant can also help applicants fill out the form. However, the applicant must be present throughout the filling out process to verify the accuracy of the information provided.
Once the form has been submitted, you will see a confirmation page and be given a confirmation number. You should preserve this data for future reference.
If you’re filling out the form on your own, you must answer all questions honestly, or you risk being disqualified. When filling out the form, please also consider the following.
- “Country of Birth” refers to the nation in which you were born (even if you no longer live there). Use the nation’s current name if the name has changed.
- “Country of Eligibility” refers to the country eligible for the DV lottery via which you’re applying. It could be your country of birth, the country of your spouse, or the country of one of your parents if any of those countries are eligible.
- You must still include the name of your spouse even if you are estranged, separated, or have no plans for your spouse to immigrate with you.
- Your children, whether born to you or adopted, must be included on this list. Stepchildren under the age of 21 must also be included.
How To Partake in the US Green Card Lottery
To partake in the green card lottery, you should submit an application to the Department of State during the annual registration period. Usually, this takes place in the transitional months of October and November.
There is no entry fee, but participants are limited to one entry each fiscal year. Anyone found trying to game the system by submitting multiple entries will be rejected.
All applications for the lottery must be submitted through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website. Entries sent later or on paper won’t be accepted. Each candidate will see a confirmation screen with their name and confirmation number after submitting the online form.
This confirmation paper should be printed off and stored safely for future use. The confirmation number will be needed later to determine the entry’s status and if the applicant was granted a visa.
This confirmation number, should it be chosen, will also be required at a later stage of the visa application procedure, such as when arranging a visa interview.
How To Confirm Your Selection
If you submit your application in the application period (October–November), you will receive notification of your status in May of the following year. As a result, you’ll need to give the State Department a couple of months to review your application and announce the results online.
If you entered the DV lottery, you can see your results by visiting the website and entering your confirmation number. If you lose your number, there will be no way to find out if you made the cut for U.S. immigration.
Note that you shouldn’t immediately begin making plans to travel if you’re selected for the lottery. Winning the lottery isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get the visa. You must apply for a US immigrant visa afterward, as the lottery is only a draw.
The below steps explain how to apply for a US immigrant visa via Form DS-260:
Submit the visa application form
Fill out and submit a DS-260, Application for a U.S. Immigrant Visa online. You should use your confirmation number to gain access to this form.
If your confirmation number looks something like 2018AF0000012345, for example, you should use “2018AF12345” instead. Once you have submitted the form, you will be directed to a confirmation page that you should print off and keep for your records.
Compile the supporting documents
You may need to attend an interview, so you should compile all necessary documents. Ensure to bring them all with you. Usually, you will need to first send the original versions of all required documents, which must be written in English.
You must have a professional translator review your paperwork to ensure accuracy if it’s in a different language. Even though the US Embassy will need to see the originals, you should nevertheless bring along copies, just in case. The following items are part of this paperwork:
- Valid international passport
- Form DS-260 confirmation page
- Approved Form I-130
- Medical examination certificate
- Vaccination documents (if applicable)
- Passport photographs according to US visa requirements
- Court, criminal records, or police certificate
- Military records, if the applicant has ever served in the military
Complete a medical examination
The United States requires anybody applying for an immigrant visa to submit to a full medical examination. Hence, you must fill out the appropriate medical paperwork and receive the required vaccinations.
A medical professional should complete these documents following medical exams. Afterward, you’ll submit it to the embassy along with the other required documents.
Attend the interview
You will be contacted by the US Embassy to set up the interview. You have to appear for the interview at the appointed time and day. Notably, you have to bring the following along:
- The Appointment Letter that you will get from the Diversity Visa website when you check your status and find that you have been selected
- Your Form DS-260 confirmation letter
- Your passport and photographs
- Your medical examination forms
- Your supporting documents
The consular officer will ask you various questions during the interview to assess if you qualify for a DV visa. They’ll decide after the interview or notify you in a few weeks.
US Green Card Lottery Application Fees
It is free to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery, but if you are shortlisted, you’ll have to pay a fee. It costs $330 to apply for a Diversity Visa. If you do not pay this fee, your immigrant visa application will be denied. In addition, there may be additional costs associated with acquiring and translating the necessary paperwork.
After the Visa Approval
Your plans to relocate to the United States can begin once you have your Diversity Visa stamped on your passport. You can purchase your flight tickets, but most importantly, you must pay the USCIS fee. You can only pay the $220 USCIS fee once you’ve received your visa.
US immigration officials will review your paperwork when you enter the country for the first time. You should bring all the required paperwork with you. If US immigration officials have reason to believe you are not traveling legally or that your documents are otherwise inadequate, they can refuse entrance into the country.
Once you’ve settled in the United States, you can adjust your immigration status by submitting Form I-485 to USCIS. You’ll spend $1,140 to complete this form. After submitting this form and making the necessary payment to USCIS, your Green Card will be sent to your new address.
As explained in the article, getting shortlisted for the US Green Card Lottery is more luck than merit. However, after the shortlisting, everything depends on you. You must apply for the visa and ensure you are cleared to travel to the United States.