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If you want to come live and work in the United States, but you don’t have family here and you don’t foresee getting a visa through your career at any point, it can feel pretty impossible to make this dream a reality. However, you don’t necessarily need to give up hope yet — There’s a chance you could win the visa lottery.

That’s right, there’s a visa lottery! In official terms, it’s called the Diversity Visa Program and its purpose is to diversify the types of people who enter the United States as green card holders. Many, but not all, people can apply for the lottery. There are two requirements.

You, Your Parents, or Your Spouse Were Born in an Eligible Country

You need to have a tie to a country from which no more than 50,000 immigrated in the last five years. Countries that were not eligible last time were Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. This list can change every year, but even if you’re from a non-eligible country you may be able to apply if your parent or spouse was born in an eligible country.

Education and/or Work Experience

Each applicant in the lottery must have either a high school diploma or its equivalent, or two years of work experience within the past five years in a job that required at least two years of training or experience to perform.

How to Apply

The program takes applicants during the month of October here. The newest program is not yet available for entry so keep checking on when you can apply. They work 2 years in advance, so those who apply in 2020 would be part of the 2022 program. Everyone who submits an application will get a unique confirmation number. This is what you will use to find out if you were selected. There is about a 6-month waiting period to find out if you are a winner. Check the link as we get closer to October if you are interested in applying.

If you are selected, you will then need to confirm your qualifications, submit your immigrant visa and alien registration applications, submit supporting documents, and go through the interview process. One of the new requirements is that you must have a valid passport at the time of submitting your application. 

For a more detailed analysis of this program, check out our past blog post: What Are Your Chances of Winning the Green Card Lottery?

Who Can Help?

If you have any questions about the diversity visa program, the Heitz Immigration Law team is here to help. We also invite you to read this blog, which goes into a little more depth. If you need guidance regarding matters related to the visa lottery, we encourage you to contact us today!

Nadine Heitz

Nadine Heitz is an immigration attorney in Lake Worth, Florida where she helps her clients obtain legal status in the United States. Book your consultation with her to find out how to solve your immigration issues and achieve your desired goals.