U.S Visa Lottery; Everything You Need to Know

The United States of America is recognized as a land of opportunities for a lot of people. But to gain entry into the US and live there, you need to follow some rules and guidelines to the letter to increase your chances of being selected.

To get a permanent residence card, also known as a green card, which will let you stay in the U.S. you need to know how to apply to the Diversity Visa or Green Card Lottery Program. This is particularly true if you are from a country with high rates of immigration to the US, exactly the target audience of the diversity visa lottery. But this guide will help provide helpful information on how you can properly apply for a US visa lottery.

Before we go into the steps let’s list the basic requirements you need to meet before in order to be offered a visa lottery.

Requirements for a U.S Visa Lottery

  1. The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program requires the applicant must either have a high school education, or its equivalent, or two years of qualifying work experience as stated under provisions of U.S. law. If you don’t have either the required education or qualifying work experience, that means you are not eligible for a diversity visa and shouldn’t apply for a DV visa because the fees once paid are non-refundable. 
  1. The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program requires the applicant must have a passport. Starting with entries for DV-2021, the Department of State’s guidelines require all applicants to provide a valid passport number at the time of DV entry.  The passport must be valid for international travel.  You are only exempted from providing a passport if you meet these three criteria:
    1. Applicant is stateless.
    2. Applicant is a citizen of a Communist-controlled country and is unable to get a passport from the government of the Communist-controlled country.
    3. Applicant is beneficiary of individual waivers approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State.

These are the only scenarios that are allowed for the exemption of a U.S Visa, anything that falls outside these three scenarios is invalid and your application will be rejected.

  1. FILL YOUR FORM CORRECTLY. There is no space for errors, any error can make you ineligible for a visa.
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How To Properly Apply for A Us Visa Lottery

STEP 1

There is only a limited period of time in which you can register for the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program each year. Typically during October to November. Every year, the Department of State publishes detailed instructions for entering the DV Program. These instructions will also include the dates of the registration period during which you will be able to enter.

You can thoroughly review them here

All entries must be submitted by electronic means on the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website during the specified registration period. Paper entries and late entries will not be accepted. The law permits only one entry for each person during each registration period. So, if you submit more than one entry you will be disqualified. 

The website doesn’t become active for submitting an entry until the date and time stated on the DV Instructions webpage.

If you have a family, the primary applicant (you) and all family members applying for a diversity visa program must complete Form DS-260. You will have to enter your DV case number into the online DS-260 form to access and update the information about yourself and your family that you included in your DV entry.

If your family situation changes after you entered the Diversity Visa program, for example, you got married or had a child, you will need to add your new family members to your case. When adding family members to your case, you must upload a document to prove your relationship to the family member being added. Failure to do this might make you the primary applicant ineligible for a visa.

STEP 2

After you submit your entry, you will see a confirmation screen with your name and a unique confirmation number. Print this confirmation screen for record purposes. It is very important that you have your confirmation number. It’s the only way you can check the status of your entry, plus you will need it to get further instructions or schedule an interview for a visa if you are selected. So keep your confirmation number safe.

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There is no cost to register for the DV Program. You can complete the entry form yourself, without a “Visa Agent,” “Visa Consultant,” or any other helper. In the case somebody or an agency helps you, you should be present when your entry is prepared so that you can provide the correct details or answers to questions and also retain the confirmation page and your unique confirmation number.

The Department of State will never mail notifications letters or even notify you with an email or provide a list of approved members. No notification whatsoever from the U.S embassies and consulates. The only way to know if you are selected or not is through your confirmation number that is used to check the status of an entry.

STEP 3

If your entry is selected, you will be directed to another confirmation page that will provide further instructions as well as information on fees associated with immigration to the U.S 

On the Sign and Submit page of the DS-260, you will need to re-enter your DV case number without the zeros (e.g. if the case number is 2025BD000005678, enter ‘2025BD5678’). Entering the full case number with zeros will generate a validation error.

After submitting the Form DS-260 online, print the confirmation page. You must bring the confirmation page to your visa interview.

Selected entries are placed on a waiting list and given a number. This is important to know because visas are given to the first 50,000 winners. So, you might get selected and still not be given a visa if you have a high number. There are usually more selected entries than visas.

How Will You Be Selected for a US Visa?

Even though the whole entry process is done manually, the selection process is done automatically and randomly by a computer program. After all, it is a lottery.  While the selection process is random, the number of visas is chosen by region. No country will receive more than 7% of visas made available for the DV program.

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How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a US Visa?

The Diversity Visa Lottery is free for all. Everyone can apply as much as they want every year since you can only apply only once a year. That being said, selected entries and winners are to pay a non-refundable fee of $330 per person. This is paid in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Conclusion

The Diversity Visa program is meant to increase the diversity of immigrants who move to the U.S. This process helps enrich the U.S. by bringing in culture from a diverse pool of applicants.

It is important to know that winners are selected randomly, and there is no entry fee. This will help prevent you from being scammed. And whatever you do, ALWAYS KEEP YOUR UNIQUE CONFIRMATION NUMBER SAFE.

FAQ on U.S. Visas Lottery

Q: What if a member of my family doesn’t meet the requirements set by the program?

A: Only you, as the principal applicant, must meet this requirement. Your spouse and children do not have to meet this requirement.

Q: Is my cousin eligible as a family member?

A: No. “Family member” refers to a spouse and/or unmarried children who had not reached age 21 before you entered the DV program.

Q: Am I meant to pay money to fill the application?

A: No. The application is totally free. The only time you will pay is if you win a visa, in which you pay a non-refundable fee in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Q: What is the difference between “country of birth” and “country of eligibility”?

A: Country of birth is the country you were born and country of eligibility is the country where your spouse or parents were born.

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