Green Card Lottery

Social Security card and permanent resident on USA flag
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By Jaclyn Granet

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Diversity Lottery registration opens on October 3, 2017 and will remain open until November 7, 2018.


The Diversity Lottery makes available 50,000 immigrant visas (green cards) through random selection. The immigrant visas made available are for individuals from countries with historically low immigration rates. According to the State Department, the diversity visas (DVs) are “distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.”


Applicants from the eligible countries must submit an application during the entry period and must have:

  • a high school education or its equivalent; or
  • two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.

This year, those born in the following countries are ineligible to register: 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.

Please note that it says “mainland-born” with respect to China, as those born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are indeed eligible for the Diversity Lottery. In addition, if you are ineligible based on your country of birth, you may be able to qualify through a spouse or parent.


As of October 3, 2017, those who are eligible and wish to apply should go to the Diversity Lottery website and complete the application. In order to do so, you will need a digital photo to upload which conforms to the photo requirements listed here. There is only one entry permitted per person. However, you may include a spouse or children in your registration. Full instructions are available here, and come with translation to numerous foreign languages.


After registering online, applicants will receive a confirmation number, which can be used to check the status of their application online. As previously stated, the 50,000 immigrant visas that are made available through the Diversity Lottery are selected at random. Results of the FY 2019 Diversity Lottery will not be available until May 1, 2018 at the earliest. At that time, applicants should begin using their confirmation number to check the results online at The State Department, the agency that oversees the Diversity Lottery, will not notify applicants by mail, email, fax, or telephone. The only way to check on the status of a registration is online.

If an applicant’s registration is successful, he/she will be assigned a number or “priority date.” Once an applicant’s priority date is current, the successful applicant will need to complete the steps outlined by the State Department here. An individual selected in the lottery should act at once and not hesitate, as there are deadlines to complete the process.  Once an individual is selected, an attorney can assist with further steps.


The Diversity Lottery is one of the most commonly targeted for immigration scams. Registering for the Diversity Lottery is free and there is only one place to register and it is here.  While paying someone to submit your application online is possible and allowed, the process is so simple that it is not necessary.  Anyone who advises that their services in assisting with the application process will increase the chance of being selected is not telling the truth. Information about scams and fraud is available on the State Department website.

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