Diversity Visa Lottery

The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program, run by the State Department, issues 50,000 green cards each year. The application period typically starts in October and ends during the first week of November. The application is free and must be completed online. Eligibility is based on country of birth (not country of citizenship).


  • Individuals born in countries whose natives qualify may be eligible to enter.
For DV-2019, individuals born in the following countries are NOT ELIGIBLE to participate (because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years):

Bangladesh Brazil Canada
China 1 Colombia Dominican Republic
Ecuador El Salvador Guatemala
Haiti India Jamaica
Mexico Nigeria Pakistan
Peru Philippines Poland
South Korea United Kingdom
and its territories

China: Mainland-born only. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible to participate.

United Kingdom: Persons born in Northern Ireland are eligible to participate.

Changes in Eligibility

  • DV-2019: No change.
  • DV-2018: Natives of Ecuador are now eligible.
  • DV-2017: No change.
  • DV-2016: No change.
  • DV-2015: Natives of Nigeria are no longer eligible.
  • DV-2014: Natives of Guatemala are now eligible.
  • DV-2013: Natives of Poland are now eligible.
  • DV-2012: No Change.


  • Each applicant must meet the education/work experience requirement of the DV program.
Only principal applicants, must meet this requirement. Derivative spouses and children do not have to meet this requirement.

The DV Lottery program participant must be eligible to receive a visa by qualifying based on education, work, and other requirements. The law and regulations require that every participant must have at least:

  • A high school education or its equivalent

A “high school education or equivalent” is defined as successful completion of a twelve-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States or successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a high school education in the United States.

Only formal courses of study meet this requirement. Correspondence programs or equivalency certificates (such as the General Equivalency Diploma G.E.D.) are not acceptable.


  • Two years of work experience within the past 5 years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform

If you are qualifying with work experience, you must have two years of experience in the last five years, in an occupation which, by U.S. Department of Labor definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher.


Alternative Chargeability

Because there is a numerical limitation on immigrants who enter from a country or geographic region, each individual is “charged” to a country. Your “chargeability” refers to the country towards which limitation you count. Your country of eligibility will normally be the same as your country of birth.

If you are born in one of the above-listed countries that are not eligible to participate, there are two (2) other ways that you might be able to participate:

  1. Through your spouse’s country of birth — If your derivative spouse was born in an eligible country, you may claim chargeability to that country. Both you and your spouse must enter the United States together using your DV visas. Similarly, your minor dependent child can be “charged” to a parent’s country of birth. Or,
  2. Through your parent’s country of birth — If neither of your parents was born in or a resident of your country of birth (the country that is not eligible to participate) at the time of your birth, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV program you are applying for. People are not generally considered residents of a country in which they were not born or legally naturalized, if they were only visiting, studying in the country temporarily, or stationed temporarily for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government from a different country other than the one in which you were born./li>