Green Card USA: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the processing fee and how can I pay it?
Applying to the Diversity Immigrant Visa program is absolutely free of charge. While there are fees associated with immigrating to the United States if you are selected, your visa application is approved, and you relocate, you should never be charged an upfront fee to apply to the Green Card lottery. To make sure your application gets in on time, the Department of State recommends submitting your own application.


Get answers about the Green Card Lottery

When is the application deadline?

Applications for the Green Card Lottery vary slightly year to year, but generally open in the beginning of October and close sometime in November. Check the program website to confirm this year's application dates. No late entries are accepted. However, the Department of State recommends applying early (before the last week) to avoid long load times or heavy website traffic, so it is a good idea to time your application for early October.

Can I apply on behalf of someone? A relative or friend who lives abroad, for example?

Applications can be made on behalf of a friend or relative who meets the program criteria; you are encouraged, but not required, to make your own entry. If applying on behalf of an entrant who does not have computer access, lives abroad, or is otherwise unable to make their own entry, make sure you double-check the applicant's entry information, including:

  • Their full name;
  • Their date and place of birth;
  • The names, dates of birth, and places of birth of their spouse and children, if they are married and/or a parent;
  • A recent photo of the applicant;
  • The applicant's current street address.
Correct information is very important when assisting another with their application, as incorrect information can disqualify even a successful Green Card lottery entry.

Does the applicant have to sign the application form?

There is no need for a signature on the application form. Applications for the Diversity Immigrant Visa program are all submitted electronically, without signatures required.

Which countries cannot participate in the Green Card lottery?

Because the list of eligible countries is based on a formula—countries whose immigration to the United States under family-sponsored or employment-based programs is more than 50,000 over the last five years—it changes from year to year. A country may become ineligible if their immigration rates rise one year, and then become eligible again later when the rate evens out. To see which countries are eligible this year, download the Green Card Application Guide.

I was born in one of the countries excluded from this year's Green Card lottery. Will these countries ever be eligible?

While the list of eligible countries varies somewhat based on immigration trends, it is largely stable: only a few countries have become newly eligible or ineligible for the program. If you were born in a country with a very high population, it is less likely that it will become eligible because the potential immigration pool is larger.
However, ultimately, no one can predict how the eligibility list will change in the future.

If I am not successful this year, can I apply for the Green Card lottery again in the future?

Yes, there are no restrictions on applying again for the program in a following year, no wait periods, and no penalties if you have previously applied.

How can a married couple increase their chances of being selected?

If you and your spouse are both eligible for the program individually, you have the option of increasing your Green Card lottery chances by submitting two separate applications. Just list yourself as the primary applicant on your application, and your spouse under the "spouse" field, and on your spouse's application, have them list you under the "spouse" field.
If you have eligible children (under 21 and unmarried) you should list them on both applications.
If either of your applications is selected, your entire family will have the option of continuing in the visa process as dependents of whichever primary applicant was selected.

Does a Green Card lottery application affect other visa or green card applications? (For example, a Green Card through marriage/employment or tourist/student/work visa application.)

Normally, a Diversity Immigrant Visa program application will not affect any alternate visa arrangements you are looking into, as it is a separate process. However, if you are applying for a non-resident visa, such as a student visa or temporary visa, an application for the DV program can affect your non-resident visa process as it is considered a demonstration of intent to emigrate to and stay in the United States. If you are considering the Green Card lottery as well as a temporary visa for school or work, it's a good idea to consult your closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate on how to best proceed.

Do I need to submit any supporting documents with my application?

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program does not require any supporting documents unless your application is selected. Specific instructions will be provided at the time of selection.

What does the law say? 

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a legislative program passed by Congress, and is rooted in the Immigration and Nationality Act. That means it can be altered or changed by an act of Congress.

If I am selected in the Green Card lottery, how long time will it take before I get a Green Card?

If you are selected, the final application process—your supporting documentation, your visa interview, and processing time—takes an average of 6-12 months. The visa is valid for six months after it's issued, which means you should plan to travel to the United States and take up residence there inside 12-18 months from your selection.

How long is a Green Card valid for?

A Green Card grants you permanent residency in the United States, which means as long as you choose to be resident there, it does not expire and does not need to be renewed. You can live as a U.S. resident indefinitely.

Is there a minimum age to apply?

There is no official minimum age to apply for the Diversity Immigration Visa program, but due to the educational and work experience requirements that the program states, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for the program if you are not at least 18 years of age.

When and how should I submit my Green Card Lottery photo?

Your photo is uploaded during your application process, through the Department of State's program website.

Can persons who are in the United States apply?

You can definitely apply if you are eligible for the program—if your country of birth is on the list and you have the requisite education or work experience—and are currently in the United States. However, you may not apply for this program if you have immigrated to the United States illegally, or are in a position where you have overstayed a visa.