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Palm Beach County Immigration Attorney > Blog > Immigration > What is the Green Card Lottery?

What is the Green Card Lottery?


When most people think of winning the lottery, they think of riches, and never having to work again. But for many immigrants, winning the lottery means being able to work, being able to stay in America, and being able to remain with family. We’re talking about the so-called Green Card Lottery.

Rules of the Lottery

The Green Card Lottery is the common name for the U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. The program was started in order to encourage diversity in the green card process, and encourage those from countries that do not have a large number of immigrants coming to the United States to get Green Cards. Winners of the lottery are given the chance to be a Green Card holder.

The lottery is held annually, there are 50,000 winners every year, and there is a deadline for each years’ lottery (usually around October to November). However, participating only requires filling out a form online.

Although the word lottery implies anyone can play, in fact, this is not the case; applicants from countries where immigrants exceed established immigration quotas in the country, are not able to be part of the lottery. Commonly excluded countries include England, Canada, China, India, and Mexico. Some countries go from being excluded, to included in the lottery on a yearly basis, so you should check to see if your home country is included, before applying for the lottery. No single country can have more than 7% of the visas given out in any one lottery year.

Applying and Qualifying

Most lottery winners are living outside the United States when they win the lottery, so you can apply no matter where you currently reside so long as you are not living in a listed, excluded country.

To be a part of the lottery applicants must have a high school degree (or equivalent in their home country), and two years of working experience in the past five years, and the work must be in a profession that requires two years of training. The U.S. Department of Labor keeps a list of jobs or work experience that meets this requirement.

Winners of the Diversity Visa Lottery still must meet the basic requirements of any Green Card applicants. For example, applicants will have to show that they don’t have certain medical conditions, or certain kinds of convictions on their criminal records which would make them ineligible.

Family members of those in the United States should consider all options before using the lottery. In some cases, other ways of getting into the United States, such as marriage-based green cards, may be much faster than waiting to win the lottery.

If you are selected in the lottery, act quickly; the visa must be issued by the end of the same fiscal year that you won the Diversity Lottery.

We can help you with your Green Card and Visa questions. Contact the Palm Beach County immigration attorneys at Devore Law Group to help you with your immigration questions and problems.


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