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The United States’ Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Lottery program allows for up to 50,000 immigrant visas to be awarded each year. It gives foreign nationals of countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S. an opportunity to participate in a random drawing for the potential of getting an immigration visa.
Also known as the Green Card lottery, the DV program makes a limited number of immigrant visas available every year to people meeting certain eligibility requirements:
You must be a foreign citizen from a country with a low immigration rate to the United States. Each year, the U.S. Department of State puts out a list of eligible and ineligible countries. The list of countries may change each year. See the 2018 DV lottery instructions for the most recent list.
You must have graduated from high school or its equivalent or have qualifying work experience.
Participating in the Lottery
The lottery is open once a year, usually for 4 to 5 weeks in the fall.
Online registration for the 2018 Diversity Visa Lottery begins Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and concludes Monday, November 7, 2016 at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time (EST). That means if you qualify for a Green Card, 2018 is the year you can enter into the United States. Check the State Department’s DV lottery site to learn more about the next registration period and get the DV-2018 instructions.
Complete the online application for the lottery. It is a web form only and cannot be downloaded. There is no charge for registering.
Keep your confirmation number in a safe place; you will need that number to check the status of your entry online. If you lose it, you can recover your confirmation number.
Make sure you have your confirmation number to check your application status. You can only check your status by going online. The State Department will not send you a letter or an email about winning a Green Card. See the fraud warning below.
If You Are a DV Lottery Winner
If you are selected through the random lottery drawing, you can move forward in applying for an immigrant visa (Green Card).
If you have a question about your interview, call the Kentucky Consular Center, 1-606-526-7500, 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM ET.
The State Department wants DV lottery participants to know about scams involving fraudulent email and letters sent to DV program applicants. The U.S. government is the exclusive operator of the DV program. It may send you an email reminding you to check the status of your entry, but it will not contact you by email or letter to let you know if you are a winner. You have to check online yourself. The U.S. government will also never ask you to pay for your visa in advance by wire transfer, money order, or check.
Travel Documents for Foreign Residents Returning to the U.S.
If you have a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), or are a foreign citizen living in the U.S., you may need additional documents to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad. Obtain these necessary documents from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your trip: