Immigrant Visas - Diversity Lottery Program
Pathway #4 : The Diversity Lottery Program

The Diversity Visa Lottery (DV-Lottery) scheme is a unique way in which the INS allows persons an opportunity to obtain legal permanent residence status in the United States. By virtue of this scheme, a maximum of 55,000 visas are made available each year through a lottery drawn randomly through a computer, to aliens who are able to meet certain requirements.

These visas are allocated among six geographic regions, namely:


Within these regions, only natives (nativity tends to be defined as the persons place of birth) of countries, which have low rates of immigration are eligible. A person from a country, which has sent more than 50,000 immigrants within the last five years, is not eligible to apply for this lottery.

There is a limit of 7% on the giving of visas to natives of any one foreign state.

Persons born in the following countries are not eligible for the DV lottery:

  • Canada
  • China (mainland born)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom & its dependent territories (except Northern Ireland)
  • Vietnam
  • Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.


There are two main requirements for eligibility:

  1. The applicant must be born in an eligible country. If an applicant was born in a country that has been declared ineligible, the applicant may claim the spouse's country of birth, provided both are issued a visa and enter the United States together. Alternatively, under certain circumstances, the person may claim nativity in one of the parents' country of birth.
  2. The applicant must have a high school education or its equivalent, defined in the U.S. as a successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR the applicant 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.


The entry registration period for DV-2012 has now ended. The online registration for DV-2012 DV Lottery began October 5, 2010, and ended November 3, 2010.

DV Lottery 2011: Entrants who completed online DV 2011 entries through the official website can check the status of their entries by returning to the website at from July 1, 2010 until June 30, 2011. Entrants will need to use the information from their DV 2011 confirmation page saved at the time of DV entry. The DV Lottery 2011 registration period was from October 2, 2009 until November 30, 2009. To review instructions for DV 2011 entrants and selectees, see 2011 Diversity Visa Lottery Instructions.

DV Lottery 2012: Entrants who completed online DV 2012 entries through the official website can check the status of their entries by returning to the website at on or after May 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012.

Before each year's lottery drawing, the Department of State publishes explicit instructions on how to apply, in press releases and the Federal Register. Instructions are usually posted in August and the registration period is usually held in October each year. Click here for DV Lottery Instructions.

Lottery Fee

There is no fee for taking part in this scheme. However, if selected, there is a fee for the immigrant visa as well as a separate visa lottery surcharge.


Only those who have won the lottery draw will be notified by mail at the address listed on the application. Further instructions and information about fees, etc., will also be sent to the winners. However, winning the lottery draw does not automatically guarantee that a visa will be issued, as the number of entries selected is greater than the number of visas available, as everyone may not have all the qualifications required or may not choose to complete the processing. Once all 50,000 visas have been issued, the diversity visa program for the year comes to an end.

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