The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program administered by the U.S. Department of State (“USDOS”) is an opportunity for foreign nationals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for permanent resident status (“green cards”) without a relative or employer sponsor. USDOS will issue up to 50,000 Diversity Visas during fiscal year 2019, which runs from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.

To be eligible, you must meet two qualifications:

  1. You must be over 18 and born in an eligible country. If you were not born in an eligible country, you may still be eligible if either
  • Your spouse was born in an eligible country, provided that both you and your spouse are named in the selected entry; or
  • You were born in a country that is ineligible, in which neither of your parents was born or legally resided at the time of your birth, provided that one of your parents was born in a country which qualifies this year.

The list of qualifying countries is updated annually. The only change this year is that natives of Ecuador are now eligible to apply. Natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

  1. You must meet education/work requirements by having either of the following:
  • A high school education, which is defined as completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States or a formal course of study in another country comparable to a U.S. high school education. USDOS will not accept a correspondence course or general equivalency diploma (GED).
  • Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience. USDOS checks the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online database to see if the occupation has a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) range of 7.0 or higher.

Applicants who satisfy the above requirements are still subject to the same grounds of inadmissibility as all other immigrant visa applicants.

To apply, you must submit Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV Entry Form or DS-5501) electronically at USDOS will only accept the E-DV form between 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time, Wednesday, October 18, 2017, and 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time, Wednesday, November 22, 2017. USDOS advises you make submissions early because in the past high demand has created website delays during the last week. There is no cost to register for the Diversity Visa lottery.

The ED-V form must be completed and submitted within 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, if the form is not submitted, the information will be discarded. Applications will require a digital, visa-style photo of each person included in the application. No late entries or paper entries will be accepted. Incomplete or incorrect entries will be disqualified. Anyone submitting multiple entries will be disqualified. You and your spouse can each submit separate entries if you both meet the requirements. Detailed instructions can be found on the USDOS website.

After you submit a complete entry, you will see a confirmation screen containing your name and a unique confirmation number. USDOS directs you to print this confirmation screen for your records and retain it until September 30, 2019, as you will need it to access the online system that will inform you of the status of your entry.

USDOS will not send emails or letters to applicants notifying them that they were selected. To see if you were selected, you can use your confirmation number at the Entrant Status Check will be available on the E-DV website at starting May 15, 2018. If your entry is selected, you will be directed to a confirmation page that will provide further instructions, including information on fees connected with immigration to the United States. You can only apply for a visa between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019.

Because it is likely that some of the first 50,000 applicants selected will not qualify for visas or will not pursue their cases, more than 50,000 applicants will be selected to ensure that all available visas are issued. This also means that there may not be enough visas for all of those who were selected.

USDOS warns applicants to beware of scams, such as emails or letters notifying individuals that they have been selected or requesting personal information or money be sent via mail or email. Only internet sites that end with the “.gov” domain suffix are official U.S. government websites. USDOS also strongly advises that you complete the entry form yourself, without a “visa consultant,” “visa agent,” or other facilitator who offers to help.