The Green Card Lottery is a government program operated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) that randomly selects up to 50,000 immigrants each year worldwide. Officially known as the Diversity Visa (DV) program, the lottery gives everyone an equal chance to permanently live and work in the United States. Although the chance of winning is slim, the green-card lottery still attracts millions of applicants from eligible countries every year.
Follow the links below to see the total number of entrants by country, the number of winners and the chances of winning. Data source: DOS' Kentucky Consular Center (KCC).
Please keep your confirmation number until at least September 2013, even if you are not selected on May 1, 2012. The Department of State may select more DV 2013 entries on October 1, 2012. Entrants in the Diversity Visa 2013 program may check the status of their entries through Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website beginning on May 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. - DOS
If you have lost your confirmation information, you will not be able to check your DV entry status. The Department of State will not be able to resend the confirmation page information to you.
The green card lottery attracts numerous scam artists who will try everything to defraud would-be immigrants. They pose as official government websites online, send fraudulent emails to DV lottery entrants, and in one way or another, ask for money. It is important to note that the green card lottery is completely free to participate. The U.S. government doesn't charge anything to download or submit the entry forms. Paying money to anyone does NOT increase your chance of winning.
To counter internet scam, the Department of State has stopped sending email notifications to lottery winners. Instead, all participants are required to check their status online. If selected, they will be given instructions on how to proceed to apply for an immigrant visa or adjust status. If you receive anything (email, fax or letter) indicating that you have won the green card lottery, especially if you are asked to send a payment, it is fraud and you should stay away from it.
You can also report internet scam to the Federal Trade Commission.
The green card lottery timeline changes from year to year. Make sure you read the instructions carefully, which are released by DOS prior to the beginning of each DV program. See this page for a description of the overall Green Card Lottery Process using DV-2012 as an example.
It is completely FREE to enter the green card lottery. The U.S. government does not charge a fee to download, complete or submit an entry form online. However, if you are selected and decide to pursue an immigrant visa, you will have to pay regular application fees.
The only way to find out if you have won the green card lottery is to use your confirmation number and check your status at the DOS Entry Status Check website . Beginning with DV-2012, KCC will NOT send email or postal mail to notify you, regardless of whether you've been selected. If you receive such an email or letter, be aware that it is not from the U.S. government. Do not respond or send any money.
Only after you've been selected (as indicated by the Entry Status Check system), and have started your visa application process, you may begin to receive email notifications from KCC notifying you of new information on your case at the status check website.
Yes, if you are eligible you may submit a lottery entry even if you are already in the U.S. If you are selected, you may choose to adjust your status through USCIS instead of going through consular processing. The same rule still applies, however, that USCIS must complete your application by September 30, 2012 in order for you to receive a green card.
If a country has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years, citizens from that country will not be eligible for the current DV program. The list of ineligible countries may change from year to year. For DV-2012, natives from the following countries are not allowed to participate in the lottery program:
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.
Keep in the mind that you may be able to use your spouse' or parents' country of birth to qualify for a DV program. Please read the instructions on "chargeability" for more details.
No, not at all.
Firstly, winning the lottery gives you a chance to proceed with your application. You still must qualify for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status. Your application may be denied during the process or interview;
Secondly, the KCC always selects more winners than DV visas available, because some people may be disqualified or choose not to apply for a visa after winning lottery. If all visa numbers are used before your turn, the DV program will effectively expire and anyone still waiting will no longer have a chance to secure a green card;
Lastly, your visa or adjustment of status application must be completed by September 30 for a given fiscal year. If there is an unexpected delay in your case, for whatever reason, you will no longer be able to proceed after the deadline.