The Diversity Visa (DV) or Green Card Lottery

So in terms of US Immigration there is probably as much mis-information about this process as there is about anything in the US Immigration system and that is saying something given how complex it is!

At it’s core, the Diversity Visa Lottery (commonly known as the Green Card Lottery) gives 55,000 permanent residency visas to foreign national to come to live and work in the US.

There is NO cost to be in this lottery and many fraudulent sites charge you saying they will provide extra service by doing this for you at a fee and resubmit the application each year if it is unsuccessful.


You do not need outside help to fill in this application as it is very simple and the only reason help may be required is in the case of a language barrier as generally the forms have only been in English.

If you have dependent spouses and/or children, they will be given a derivative visa should you be successful in the lottery.

The way the system works is;

  1. Applications usually open from early October to early December online (internet is the ONLY way to submit entry)
  2. Winners are announced vis MAIL only from about May to September the following year
  3. Your visa then applies from the year after onwards
    In other words apply in 2009, learn of success in 2010, visa takes effect in 2011

So in essence this year Diversity Visa Lottery will be call DV-2011 as it for visas that will take effect from 2011.

This is the information you have to give on application.

1. FULL NAME – Last/Family Name, First Name, Middle name

2. DATE OF BIRTH – Day, Month, Year

3. GENDER – Male or Female


5. COUNTRY WHERE YOU WERE BORN – The name of the country should be that which is currently in use
for the place where you were born.

will normally be the same as your country of birth.  Your country of eligibility is not related to where you live. If you were born in a country that is not eligible for the DV program, please review the instructions to see if there is another option for country chargeability available for you.

7. ENTRY PHOTOGRAPH(S) – See the technical information on photograph specifications.  Make sure you include photographs of your spouse and all your children, if applicable.

8. MAILING ADDRESS – In Care Of, Address Line 1, Address Line 2, City/Town, District/Country/Province/State, Postal Code/Zip Code, and Country


10. PHONE NUMBER (optional)

11. E-MAIL ADDRESS (optional)

12. WHAT IS THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION YOU HAVE ACHIEVED, AS OF TODAY? You must indicate which one of the following represents your own highest level of educational achievement:  (1) Primary school only,  (2) High school, no degree,  (3) High school degree,  (4) Vocational school,  (5) Some university courses,  (6) University degree,  (7) Some graduate level courses, (8) Master degree,  (9) Some doctorate level courses, and (10) Doctorate degree

13. MARITAL STATUS – Unmarried, Married, Divorced, Widowed, or Legally Separated

14. NUMBER OF CHILDREN –  Entries MUST include the name, date, and place of birth of your spouse and all natural children, as well as all legally-adopted children and stepchildren who are unmarried and under the age of 21 on the date of your entry (do not include children who are already U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents), even if you are no longer legally married to the child’s parent, and even if the spouse or child does not currently reside with you and/or will not immigrate with you.  Note that married children and children 21 years or older are not eligible for the diversity visa; however, U.S. law protects children from “aging out” in certain circumstances.  If your electronic DV entry is made before your unmarried child turns 21, and the child turns 21 before visa issuance, he/she will be treated as though he/she were under 21 for visa-processing purposes.  Failure to list all children who are eligible will result in disqualification of the principal applicant and refusal of all visas in the case at the time of the visa interview.

15. SPOUSE INFORMATION – Name, Date of Birth, Gender, City/Town of Birth, Country of Birth, and Photograph.  Failure to list your spouse will result in disqualification of the principal applicant and refusal of all visas in the case at the time of the visa interview.

– Name, Date of Birth, Gender, City/Town of Birth, Country of Birth, and Photograph:  Include all children declared in #14 above.

So as you can the information required is pretty straightforward, particularly for an English speaker.

For the first time ever in the DV-2010 lottery last year, applicants were told immediately if their photo did not conform to the relevant standards (pretty similar to passport photo standards), and could re-submit their application.
Also last year, for the first time, applicants were told that if they kept the confirmation page after submitting their application, they could check online in mid-2010 the success or failure of them winning the lottery. This meant non-winners of the lottery could confirm that was the case for the first time and before that there was no notification and no way for you to confirm.

Also as further enrty requirements you should check;

Native of a country whose natives qualify:  In most cases, this means the country in which you were born.  However, there are two other ways you may be able to qualify.  First, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible but your spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible; you can claim your spouse’s country of birth, provided both you and your spouse are on the selected entry, are issued visas, and enter the U.S. simultaneously.  Second, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither of your parents was born there or resided there at the time of your birth, you may
claim nativity in one of your parents’ country of birth, if it is a country whose natives qualify for the DV-2010 program.

Education or Work Experience: You must have either a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.  The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine database will be used to determine qualifying work experience.

If you cannot meet either of these requirements, you should NOT submit an entry to the DV program.

The main list your country would be ineligible is because natives of that country sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years disqualifying them from that year’s Green Card Lottery.

Essentially the Diversity Visa Lottery is to ensure a more diverse population base in the US.

For DV-2010 whose application perion was last year in 2008, these countries natives were disqualified from entry.


Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.
For DV-2010, Russia has returned to the list of eligible countries.  Kosovo has also been added to the list of eligible countries.  No countries have been removed from the list of eligible countries for DV-2010.

For you to get an idea this is list of country winners for Green Card Lottery 2009 (known as DV-2009)

I hope this post helps clear up myths about the process and don’t forget to checkout the State Department visa lottery website for more information about this current year’s process.


58 thoughts on “The Diversity Visa (DV) or Green Card Lottery

  1. Hi Nani,
    If your native country is India you are ineligible to enter the Green Card Lottery unfortunately.

  2. Hello,
    My question is regarding the application for the DV.
    I am from a not eligable country while my wife is from an eligable country.
    I want to apply charging my origin to my derivative wife’s country
    My wife also wants to apply listimg me as derivative spouse.
    Can we each apply in this case or only my wife should apply.

  3. Hey,
    Firstly thank you for all your valuable information. I am in America on a J1 visa and in the process of applying for the E3 through a sponsorship with the studio i work part time at. I fly to London on the 5th of june and will apply there.
    Now the other day i was informed that i won the green card lottery… So now i’m not sure what to do. Since my visa expires now. Would you recommend i still go for the E3 for the 4 months i am here. I just want to keep my case super simple so i have the best chances of getting the green card. Thanks K

  4. Hello,

    I would like to confirm an information that i’ve heard but can’t find anywhere: I’m italian and, even though I’d like to try and get the diversity visa, i would like to keep my italian passport as well, ending up having double passport, italian and american. I was told that the diversity visa does;t allow you to keep your previous passport… Is that true? Thank you.

  5. Eleonora whether you are able to keep dual passports is up to both countries. The US certainly allows dual citizenship so would have no issue with you having an Italian/EU passport and as far as I know Italy is ok with this too. Many other EU nations allow multiple nationalities.

  6. KN your E-3 visa will be great for that gap period up to October 1, 2012 when it will be the first date that any Green Card won via the lottery would take effect.

  7. Hey there
    My fiancé and I are both Australian and intend to enter the dv lottery for the coming year. If one of us wins the lottery, the other would intend to apply as a derivative dependent (spouse). Do you know whether we would need to be married prior to entering the lottery, OR prior to the lottery bring drawn OR just prior to the actual visa application stage later? The state department website indicates that spouses must be listed on the original dv lottery entry but I can’t seem to find information for those that marry afterwards. Any assistance would be appreciated. Many thanks!

  8. Hi Liz,
    If you get married after one of you win the lottery that should be fine as your have to go through an interview at a US Consulate and a proof of your marriage regardless of when it occurred is required via a marriage certificate prior to entering the US.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.