What is the U.S. Green Card Lottery?


The green card lottery is also known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program). It’s an initiative that’s aimed at countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The U.S. Department of State outlines the program on its website. The green card lottery makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas that are drawn every year. It’s a random selection.

The program was created under Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The legislation provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” They are from nations with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

The diversity visas are distributed among six geographic regions and no one country is allowed to receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.

green card

The countries of eligibility in the 2018 program include Italy, Turkey, Poland, Japan, Romania, Russia, Spain, and Nepal.

Most winners of the green card lottery live outside the United States and immigrate through consular processing and the issuing of an immigrant visa.

How to Enter the Green Card Lottery Program

Every year a small number of lottery winners are living in the United States in a nonimmigrant or other legal status.

You can adjust your status under the diversity immigrant visa program provided you:

  • Were selected for a diversity visa by DOS’s lottery;
  • Have an immigrant visa immediately available when you file an adjustment application (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status); and
  • Are admissible to the United States.

USCIS recommends you check the latest month’s DOS Visa Bulletin to find out about visa availability.  The chart shows when the Diversity Immigrant cut-off is met. Once the cut-off is met, visas will be available in a given month for the applicants with Diversity Immigrant lottery rank numbers below the specified cut-off numbers for their geographic areas.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is one of many ways you can apply for a green card. Although numbers are small, it’s a useful way of boosting applications from nations with low levels of immigration.

Many immigrants gain green cards via sponsorship from a permanent resident. Adjustment of status is available to visa carriers, people with pending petitions, and those with an expired visa. Some immigrants obtain a green card through an asylum application or petition.

If you have any questions about obtaining a green card, please contact our experienced Austin immigration attorneys and speak with an expert green card lawyer today. Call us at (512) 399-2311.

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