Green Card Lottery
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Frequently Asked Questions



What is the Green Card Lottery?
The Green Card Lottery, officially called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, is a lottery for people who come from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. Each year 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through this program. None of these visas are available for people who come from countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. The U.S. Department of State holds the lottery every year and winners are chosen randomly from all qualified entries. Anyone who is selected in this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. If permanent residence is granted, the individual will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.
 
What is the processing fee and how can I pay it?
There is no fee to enter the Green Card Lottery. Beware of private websites that charge a fee to submit the application on your behalf. These websites are not affiliated with the United States government, and there are no guarantees that they will actually submit the application.

How do I participate in the Green Card Lottery?
You must meet all the requirements and submit the application directly to the official DV Lottery website.
 
When is the application deadline?
Registration for the 2009 Green Card Lottery (DV 2011) has started! The application period is from October 2, 2009 to November 30, 2009.
   
Can I apply on behalf of someone? A relative or friend who lives abroad for example.
Yes, you may apply on behalf of a friend or relative. You may apply online on behalf of someone. The person does not need to sign the application form or be in the United States. The only information you need is the applicant's:
- Full Name
- Place of Birth
- Date of Birth
- Spouse and Children information (name, date, and place of birth) if the applicant is married or have children.
- A recent photo (you or the applicant himself/herself can submit the photo)
- Address: You can enter your address and email address instead of the applicant's contact information, but you may also enter the applicant's address.
   
Does the applicant have to sign the application form (mail applications)?
No. The applicant does not need to sign the form. A friend or relative may submit the application. The applicant himself/herself does not need to sign it.
   
Can I enter an address in the United States on my Green Card Lottery application?
Yes, you may enter an address in the United States or an address abroad. Due to the sometimes unreliable and slow mail service to other countries, it is actually recommended that you enter an address in the United States (if you have one).
 
Do I qualify to enter the Green Card Lottery?
An applicant must be able to: 
I) claim nativity in an eligible country, AND 
II) meet either the education or training requirement
Click here for more details. 
 
Who is eligible to enter the Green Card Lottery?
You or your spouse must be a native of a country that is eligible to participate in the Diversity Visa Lottery. If you are born in a country that is not eligible, but both your parents or your spouse was born in an eligible country, you do qualify. The U.S. State Department publishes the list of countries that are eligible to participate before each year's lottery. You must have a high school diploma or 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 an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform. Click here for more details.
 
Which countries cannot participate in the Green Card Lottery?

Almost every country in the world is in the Green Card Lottery. However, the following countries are excluded from participating in this year's Green Card Lottery:

- Brazil - Jamaica
- Canada - Mexico
- China (mainland-born) * - Pakistan
- Colombia - Philippines
- Dominican Republic - Peru
- Ecuador - Poland
- El Salvador - South Korea
- Guatemala - United Kingdom and its dependent territories **
- Haiti - Vietnam
- India  

* Persons born in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are eligible.
** Ireland and Northern Ireland are eligible.


Important: If you were born in a country which cannot participate in the Green Card Lottery, you may still enter the lottery if your spouse or both of your parents were born in an eligible country. For example, if you were born in Canada or the United Kingdom (both ineligible countries), but your husband/wife or your parents were born in Ireland (an eligible country), you can enter the Green Card Lottery. On the application form, you should enter your spouse/parents country of birth as your "native country" and your country of birth in the "Place of Birth" field.
 
I was born in one of the countries excluded from this year's Green Card Lottery. Will these countries ever be eligible to apply?
The list of countries has not changed much in the past 10 years. There is no indication that any of these countries might be eligible in the near future. Remember that even if you were born in an ineligible country, you may apply if both your parents were born in an eligible country. It does not have to be the same country, but both parents need to be born in an eligible country. You should enter your country of birth in the "Place of Birth" field, and your father's or mother's country of birth in the "Native Country" field.
 
If I am not successful this year can I apply for the Green Card Lottery again in the future?
Yes, you may apply again without any penalties or restrictions.
 
How can a married couple increase their chances of being selected?
Legally married couples have the option of submitting 2 applications:

1. On the first application, the husband is the primary applicant and the wife is listed in the "spouse" section.
2. On the second application, the wife is the primary applicant and the husband is listed in the "spouse" section.

Couples submitting 2 applications double their chances of being selected. To file a dual application as described above, both the husband and the wife must meet the application requirements. You should also include your unmarried children (if any) under 21-years of age on both applications.
 
Does a Green Card Lottery application affect other visa or green card applications?
(For example Green Card through marriage/employment or tourist/student/work visa application)
Normally not. This is a separate application process and it should not be a problem. If you are applying for another type of visa at the American embassy/consulate in your country, you might be asked if you have also applied for the Green Card Lottery. Do not submit any supporting documents with this Green Card Lottery application.
 
Do I need to submit any supporting documents with my application?
No! Supporting documents (i.e. birth, marriage, education certificates, etc.) only need to be produced if you are selected in the Green Card Lottery. You will receive further instructions if you are selected. 
 
What does the Law say?
The legal foundation for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Please see The Law for more information. 
 
I'm eligible to apply but I'm currently living in an ineligible country - can I still apply? 
Yes! As long as you meet the eligibility requirements (country of birth and education), you may apply from anywhere in the world. 
 
If I am selected in the Green Card Lottery, how long time will it take before I get a Green Card?
Thee process takes about 6-12 months on average. 
 
How long is a Green Card valid for?
It is valid indefinitely as long as you maintain your U.S. residence. In other words, there is no time restriction on how long you can stay in the United States. 
 
If I get a Green Card (permanent residence in the United States), can I also get US citizenship?
You may apply for U.S. Citizenship after 5 years of continuous residence in the United States. Application for citizenship is optional. 
 
How can I find out if I was selected in the Green Card Lottery?
Only the winners will be notified. If you are selected in the Green Card Lottery, you will receive a letter directly from the U.S. Department of State between May and July of the following year. The letter will be sent to the address you provided on your application. Winners will be sent instructions and additional information on how to proceed with the application application. Being selected as a winner in the diversity visa lottery does not automatically guarantee that you will be issued a visa, even if you are qualified. The number of entries selected is greater than the number of immigrant visas available because not everyone selected will be qualified for the visa or will choose to complete the processing. Once all 50,000 visas have been issued, the DV Program will end for the year. 
 
Is there a minimum age to apply?
There is no minimum age. However, the education and work experience requirement for the principal applicant will probably exclude most individuals under 18 years of age from applying. 
 
What is the correct photo size and specifications?
Click here to learn more about the Green Card Lottery photo specifications.
 
When and how should I submit my Green Card Lottery photo?
The photo is submitted to State Department Website at the same time as the application itself. You will be asked to upload the picture during the application process.
 
May persons who are in the United States apply?
Yes, an applicant may be in the United States or in any other country.  However, illegal immigrants are NOT eligible to apply.  Persons who entered the United States illegally, or are currently out of status (e.g. overstaying their visas) are not eligible.

Green Card Lottery Application


   2009 Green Card Lottery
Green Card Lottery
  USGreenCardLottery.org is a division of "US IMMIGRATION CENTER", a private entity not affiliated with the U.S. Government.