Visa lottery in the United States

Find out all you need to know about the Diversity Visa Program to get legal permanent residence in the US.

Many foreign citizens dream about getting a Green Card by means of a program better known as the “Visa Lottery”. The actual name of this program is the ‘Diversity Visa Program’ and it is an initiative that has been sponsored for over 29 years by the Department of State.

Who can benefit from this program? The US government assigns around 50,000 visas to foreign citizens who have a low immigration rate to the United States. Countries with over 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past 5 years do not participate. The good thing is that the list is updated every year, and if a new country meets this criteria, it gets included in the list.

How does it work? Do all participants have the same chances? There are the same possibilities because the winners are randomly selected. Of course, there are some specific requirements that the applicant must meet, but when the applicant decides to participate has as many chances as any other to be a winner.

Are you one of them? If you are among those people who wish to participate, and you feel that you are lucky enough, we invite you to continue reading this article to find more about the visa lottery program in the United States.

What is the procedure to participate in the ‘visa lottery’ program?

“The Visa Lottery 2021” is the the name with which the program was launched in 2019, because even though the enrollment process starts this year (between october and november), the results will only be known by May 2020, and it will not be until 2021 when the visa process and issue actually take place.

Technically, over 100,000 people will be chosen. However, half of them will be eliminated from the process because they did not actually meet all of the requirements. So, in reality, there will be 50,000 visas available as it happens every year. 

There some countries that have a higher demand. However, the allotment for citizens of one country cannot surpass 7% of the total amount of available visas.

What makes this program even more interesting is that it works randomly through a computer program. Plus, if you take into account the time limits, the participants can check their status starting in May of the following year.

In order to do that, the participant will get a confirmation number and this number will allow you to know if you won. So, you need to be patient because you need some time to know the results.

You should know that immigration procedures tend to be lengthy and tedious, even more so if you take into account that in the US there are so many programs available to people from so many different countries. The good thing about the Visa Lottery is that it is free to apply for it and it can be done directly to the American government without intermediaries.  

What must the Visa Lottery winners do? 

If you were selected, you should start with the visa process right away because it is necessary to process the visa and it must be issued before the fiscal year ends. Also, it is important to keep in mind that there are many more people who have applied to get this kind of visa, so you need to hurry,

The winner will be notified via the Department of State website: 

This can be done 90 days before October 1, when the fiscal year start in the United States.

There are 2 possible scenarios: either the winner is inside or outside the United States. However, it is far more likely that the process starts abroad in the American embassy of the winner’s country of origin. The person should start his or her application and, if all of the requirements are met, an immigrant visa will be issued during the interview. 

On the other hand, if the person is in the United States, has non-immigrant status, and wins the Visa Lottery, he or she will be able to formalize his or her permanent residence application at the United States Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS).

Who can participate in the Visa Lottery?

Any person born in an eligible country may participate. If the person is not a citizen of such a country but his or her spouse is, it would be possible for him or her to apply using his spouse’s citizenship. Likewise, if one of his parents is a citizen of an eligible country, he can claim his parent’s citizenship to apply.

It is important to clarify that only the spouse and single children under 21 years of age can benefit from the Visa Lottery.

As part of the requirements, the applicant must have successfully finished his or her secondary education, or have 2 years of work experience during the last 5 years. In order to know whether the applicant meets the work requirements, you can go to the US Department of Labor website.

Having a criminal record is a point against the applicant. The same applies in regards to certain health conditions that could make it difficult to attain the permanent residence.

The applicant has 30 minutes to finish his application to participate on the Visa Lottery program. Once the 30 minutes are over, no information will be allowed. So, make sure that you have gathered all of the required information including the pictures.

It is also important to keep in mind that the procedure is completely free of charge. For instance, knowing how the program works will allow you to avoid any fraudulent schemes. The applicant must keep in mind that a winner will not be notified via telephone or email. You can only find out if you have won when you verify your status through the Department of State’s website.

How can you enroll for the Diversity Visa Program?

Although there are many pages that can fraudulently say that they can help you with the process or help you increase your chances of winning the Visa Lottery, you can just participate through this website: which is the Department of State’s only website that receives applications for those who wish to participate.

It is not possible to apply more than once. Besides, all the applications that are not signed in the applicant’s native language alphabet, as it is on his or her passport, will be rejected. 

Likewise, there is a number of pictures that you need to send. Every member of the participating family should send recent pictures and group family pictures will not be allowed.

The process must be done separately since the applicant should have a file with a digital picture which should be sent along the electronic enrollment form, in that way the application to the diversity visa will be complete.

“It is also important to keep in mind that the procedure is completely free of charge. For instance, knowing how the program works will allow you to avoid any fraudulent schemes.”

Which countries are not eligible for the Visa Lottery?

Before you even start your application, you should take into account that the following countries are not eligible: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, the Philippines, Pakistan, South Korea, and the UK.

People born in those countries cannot participate. But this can change if the applicant can apply by using his or her spouse’s or parents’ citizenship.

On the other hand, among the eligible countries are: Argentina, Barbados, Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Granada, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, etc.

Although there is no age limit to apply to participate in the Visa Lottery, other requirements such as work experience and education make it very hard for minors to apply.

Also, you are not eligible if the applicant… 

  • Has lived in the United States illegally.
  • Must prove that he or she is in good health.
  • Must prove that he or she has no criminal record
  • Must prove that he or she will not be a burden for the State.

What benefits come from having a Green Card? 

Having a Green Card (permanent residence in the United States) is a dream come true for almost any immigrant because it means having legal status in the United States. This allows the Green Card holder to work for public or private companies, entering and leaving the United States, having access to the financial aid in education and health care, the right to retirement benefits, loans, etc.  

Permanent residence in the United States is coveted by many of those who arrive to the United States to improve their quality of life. That is why every year many foreign citizens apply for the Visa Lottery hoping to be one of those 50,000 immigrants who wins a spot.

If you want to know how it came about, you should know that the Visa Lottery became part of the Immigration Act of 1990. The goal was to promote diversity among immigrants in the United States, and particularly, open a window to those smaller nations with a small immigration rate to the US, when compared to other nations. 

This has been a successful program and it is thought that about 95% of the immigrant population who happen to be winners, also get permanent residence, since the overwhelming majority actually reside outside the United States when they get the visa.

During the 29 years in which this immigration program has been in place, a few changes have been suggested in the US Congress, some people have even demanded the program to be eliminated altogether. However, none of these proposals has passed. 

Visa Lottery 2021 

The State Department reportedthat by 2021 there will be about 55,000 visas available to qualifying foreign citizens that meet all the requirements and who were born in countries eligible to particpate in the Visa Lottery program.

Those interested will have about 4 months to make their application. The process will start on October 2, and will end on November 5. The application should be made online and that is why they an up-to-date browser so that everything works smoothly.

It is very important to keep in mind that during the last Visa Lottery, among the countries who won the visa lottery, were Egypt with 5,569 winners, Russia with 5,118, Cuba with 2,703, and Venezuela with 1,068.

For the 2019 Visa Lottery, some changes were made after a law was passed in the Federal Records. This law makes it clear that it is important to have a valid passport, something that was not required before.

The purpose of this change was to avoid fraud, since there was an increasing number of companies trying to profit out of the Diversity Program application. From 2019 onwards, in order to apply for the Visa Lottery, a passport number is required, its issue and expiration date, and the passport’s issuing authority.

Participating in the Visa Lottery is a big deal for many people, especially for families that wish to leave their countries. Through the Diversity Program a great deal of people have been able to make their dream of coming to the United States legally come true, and in so doing, getting some social benefits as well.

Since 1990, the stories of so many immigrants who came to the US through the Visa Lottery or Diversity Program, witness to how this program has helped to change the lives of people all around the world.

Contact Us

Whether you, or a close one or a relative, is in need of legal aid on Immigration; or you are a victim of the Judicial system, we can help you. Keep in mind:

Our Mission Is To Protect