How Do I Enter the Immigration Lottery?

How Do I Enter the Immigration Lottery

The immigration lottery, commonly known as the green card lottery and more formally called the Diversity Visa Program, randomly selects up to 50,000 eligible individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

But entering is only step one, if you’re lucky enough to be selected. Read on to learn about the Diversity Visa Program and the steps along the way.

Step by Step

As the Bureau of Consular Affairs explains, the first step to entering the immigration lottery is to apply online at Each year, the Department of State releases the dates for the registration period (generally during October) and detailed instructions for entering. You may enter only once per registration period, and you must include information about those who would be accompanying you (spouse and children). You’ll need to keep a copy of your confirmation number, as it is the only means by which to check your status during this process.

Next, the Department of State will conduct a random selection of applicants from eligible regions. Once results are released, you can check your status on the Electronic Diversity website (the same site where you applied) using your confirmation number. If selected, step two is to confirm your qualifications. You must have a high school education (or equivalent) or two years of qualifying work experience (Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher) in the last five years. Your spouse and children do not need to meet this requirement; only the principal applicant needs to meet this requirement.

Step three is to submit your immigrant visa and alien registration application. The Kentucky Consular Center will review your application and inform you if anything of the information you provided needs to be updated.

For step four, collect your supporting documents. The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs lists the supporting documents that may be required are:

  • Evidence of required DV qualifying education or work experience
  • Birth certificates
  • Court and prison records
  • Deportation documentation
  • Marriage certificate
  • Marriage termination documentation
  • Military records
  • Police records
  • Custody documentationThe U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply will have specific instructions. Information on these instructions can be found on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

If/when a visa number becomes available for you, you will receive an email from the Kentucky Consular Center scheduling an interview. You and anyone else included in your application must attend this interview. Be sure to assemble all required documents and photographs, and schedule and complete a medical exam. You must also pay the Diversity Visa Lottery fee ($330 per person, nonrefundable regardless of the outcome of your interview).

The Bureau of Consular Affairs instructs interviewees to bring the following to the interview:

  • Appointment Letter
  • DS-260 Confirmation Page
  • Passport
  • Photographs
  • Medical Exam Results
  • Original and Supporting Documents
  • English Translations
  • Visa Fees

There may be additional instructions related to the interview from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you applied. A list of authorized physicians for the medical exam and information on these instructions can be found on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

How Your Place of Residence Affects the Process

Most winners reside outside the U.S. As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains, a few winners every year are living in the U.S. with “nonimmigrant or other legal status.” If you are one of these people, you must apply for an adjustment of status. In order to do so, you must establish that you have been selected for a diversity visa, have an immigration visa available upon filing your adjustment of status application, and are admissible to the United States. To get an immigration visa, you must file Form I-485 and the required supporting evidence. The adjustment of status process must be completed by September 30 of the fiscal years applicable to the lottery you’ve won.

Final Step: Approval or Denial

After following these steps, you will be informed as to whether your visa has been approved or denied. This guide is a simplified description of the full instructions for applying. This process requires careful attention to every stage of the process. If you find that you are not sure how to proceed with entering the Diversity Visa Lottery on your own, you may find that you want to consult an immigration professional.

Be certain that any professional you consult is legitimate. The only site through which you can enter the lottery is the official site ( That said, an immigration professional can help you ensure that you present the best application possible. While the initial selection is random, you must still be able to show that you qualify, and errors along the way can harm your chances of proceeding. Later stages also require close attention to detail and careful preparation.

Help with your Application

Are you interested in immigrating to the U.S. or moving to Canada? Contact VisaPlace today.

All our cases are handled by competent and experienced immigration professionals who are affiliated with VisaPlace. These professionals consist of lawyers, licensed paralegals and consultants who work for Niren and Associates an award winning immigration firm that adheres to the highest standards of client service.

Click here to book a consultation with an immigration professional or fill out our FREE assessment and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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