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What is the Immigration Lottery?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program; also called the “Green Card Lottery”) is a congressionally mandated lottery program for receiving permanent resident status. According to USCIS, the DV Program makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available each year, drawn randomly from among all entries, to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

Most people who are drawn live outside of the United States and are then allowed to legally immigrate through issuance of a visa. In a small number of cases, lottery winners already reside in the United States in a nonimmigrant or other legal status. In these cases, USCIS processes adjustment of status applications.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must have been born in an eligible country in order to enter the lottery.If they are chosen, the will need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • They must have completed at least a high school education or at least two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two other years of experience or training
  • They must satisfy general immigration requirements, including good health, no criminal background, and a means of support

Some nations have already sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the past five years. For 2017, natives of the following nations are ineligible to receive a Diversity Visa:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)
  • Vietnam

There is no charge to enter the DV lottery. The only way to do so is to complete and send the electronic form available at the U.S. Department of State’s website during the registration period. You should be aware, however, that there are many scams out there that falsely claim to be with the U.S. government, or that claim they can improve an applicant’s chance of winning for a fee.

If you are seeking to make the United States your permanent home and have questions about your immigration status, please feel free to contact Pozo Goldstein, LLP to speak with a Miami immigration attorney. We’re here to help. For your convenience, we offer services in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, and German.

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