The US Green Card Lottery

At first glance, the U.S. green card lottery sounds like an exciting chance to make some cold, hard cash. However, this is no simple lottery that consists of scratching tickets or picking numbers. The Green Card Lottery, also known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, is run by the United States government. It makes approximately 55, 000 immigrant visas available to people of other countries that have low immigration rates to the United States. An applicant who receives a Diversity Immigrant visa is allowed to permanently live and work in the United States. They may also bring their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 along with them. When granted permanent residence through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, the cardholder can work at any job and/or start a business.

How it Works

The U.S. Government holds the U.S. Green Card Lottery each year, and randomly chooses about 110, 000 applicants from all qualifying entries. Each regionâs entries are individually numbered when they reach the Kentucky Consular Center. At the end of the registration period, entries are randomly selected from each geographic region by a computer. Within each region, the first entry picked is the first case registered, the second entry is the second case registered, and so on. All entries from each geographic region have an equal chance of being randomly chosen. The selected applicants are sent a notification from the Kentucky Consular Center which provides specific visa application instructions. U.S. Green Card lottery winners are then contacted by a consular office, at which time the applicant has to provide proof that all the specific requirements (level of education, work experience, etc.) are met. Regular green card applicants must be sponsored by an employer or family member; however, a sponsor is unnecessary when you are a green card lottery winner.

How to Apply

Every year, in August, the State Department publishes detailed instructions on the correct application procedure in press releases and the Federal Registrar. The registration period is usually held in October. The application form is available online only, and it is crucial to fill out this form very carefully. If it is filled out incorrectly or not completed, the applicant will be disqualified. Although there is no fee for entering the U.S. Green Card Lottery, the winner must pay a fee for an immigrant visa and a separate visa lottery surcharge. Winners are notified by mail at the address indicated on their application. The U.S. Green Card Lottery application form will ask you to submit the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth (city, town, province, country, etc.)
  • Gender
  • Mailing address and telephone number
  • Email address
  • Country of eligibility
  • Marriage status
  • Recent photos
  • Number of unmarried children under 21 years of age
  • Spouse information
  • Children information

What does Permanent Status mean?

When granted permanent status through the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you are allowed to permanently reside in the U.S.A. You must pay taxes on âworldwideâ income on an annual basis. You must continue to âresideâ in the U.S.A., which means you must live in the U.S.A. the majority of the time and have significant ties to the U.S.A. With special permission granted, you are allowed to leave for two years. After five years, you may file for citizenship, providing you have completed required residence periods in America. Citizenship grants a person the rights to vote and to obtain a U.S. passport.


In order to be eligible to qualify for the U.S. Green Card Lottery program, the applicant must meet two entry requirements.

First, he or she must be a native of a qualifying country. If the applicant is native to a country that already has a high immigration rate to the United States, they are not eligible to enter the lottery. The eligibility is only determined by country of birth and not by country of current residence or citizenship. The following countries are excluded from the Green Card lottery; however, those born in non-qualifying countries can still participate based on the country of birth of their parents.

  • Russia
  • China (mainland only)
  • Vietnam
  • South Korea
  • Philippines
  • Brazil
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • United Kingdom (excluding North Ireland)
  • Canada
  • Dominican Republic
  • Colombia
  • Haiti
  • El Salvador
  • Poland

The second entry requisite is based on education and work experience. The applicant must have completed a foreign equivalent of the U.S. high school diploma, meaning successful completion of a twelve year course of elementary and secondary education, or the applicant must have had two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training and experience.

For further information on the U.S. Green Card Lottery and for complete instructions, please visit the State Department website.

Abe Rothstein is the content manager for Abe’s INS Fiance Visa Help Site []. He offers immigration solutions to help you get into the country legally. Visit his site for a full detailed walkthough of the fiance visa process.