There are two main requirements to qualify for the U.S. Green Card Lottery (also known as the Diversity Visa Lottery). Besides being a native of a qualifying country, Green Card Lottery eligibility also includes having a high school education or at least two years of work experience in an occupation that meets certain criteria. It is one of the most unique American visa programs since it does not require employer or family sponsorship. All qualifying Green Card Lottery participants have an equal opportunity to win. The winners are chosen at random by a computer program.
One of the major eligibility requirements for one to qualify for the Green Card Lottery is to be a native of an eligible country. While most countries are eligible for the Green Card Lottery, those who have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S over the past five years are not eligible to apply for the program.
According to the U.S. government, a native of a qualifying country, in most cases, means a person who was born in an eligible country. If you find out that your native country is not eligible, but your spouse’s native country is, you can enter the Green Card Lottery via your spouse’s entry. It is important that both of you are listed on the Green Card Lottery entry; otherwise, it will be disqualified from the program. Another exception to the native eligibility rule is if one’s parents were born in eligible countries, but were not residents of the individual’s country of birth, then the person can apply to the program. For example, your parents might have temporarily lived in the ineligible country because of their jobs. The most recent list of ineligible countries is shown below.
Education or Work Experience
There is another eligibility requirement for the Green Card Lottery: education or work experience. You must have a secondary/high school diploma or the equivalent, defined in the United States as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR you must have two years of work experience within the last five years in a qualifying occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform, as listed on the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine database.
You will also be required to submit a photo. This includes the following people:
2. Your spouse
3. Unmarried child (including adopted and stepchildren) under the age of 21, even if they no longer live with you or do not intend to immigrate under the program.
Photographs have to be in a specific format and meet all the requirements of the U.S. government. Paper-based photos cannot be used. Please note that part of the GCLEXPERTS service is that we can transform paper-based photos into the proper digital format.
Failure to enter the correct photograph of each individual into the proper format may result in an automatic disqualification. One of the many benefits that clients of GCLEXPERTS receive is a review of their applications and photos by our experienced team of experts to make sure everything meets the strict requirements for participation in the Green Card Lottery before submission during the annual registration period.
New Passport Requirement
In September 2019, the US State Department announced that the main applicant will now be required to enter the number for his/her valid passport, the country that issued the passport, and the passport’s expiration date, on the application. The only three exceptions to this new passport requirement are (1) individuals who are "stateless, (2) a national of a Communist-controlled country and unable to obtain a passport from the government of the Communist-controlled country, or (3) the beneficiary of an individual waiver approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State." Aside from the three exceptions just mentioned, all main applicants must provide the required passport information in their Green Card Lottery application or they cannot participate.
The Green Card Lottery is done totally on online. Paper-based applications are no longer accepted.
Winners are selected via a computer generated program that randomly chooses the entries. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, and within each region, no single country may receive more than 7% of the available Green Card Lottery visas any one year.
Non-Eligible Countries (DV-2023)
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
NOTE: People who were born in Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.