What is a Diversity Visa, and Do I Qualify?
The Diversity Visa Lottery is a United States government program that creates 50,000 permanent resident cards available by lottery to people from underrepresented countries. Diversity is commonly considered a core value of the United States, so the Diversity immigrant Visa Program was created in 1990 to encourage people to visit from countries that are underrepresented in the U.S.
Underrepresented countries are considered countries that have less than 50,000 natives admitted into the United States in the past five years. This means individuals from countries that have a lot of immigrants constantly coming to the United States, such as China, India, and Mexico are not eligible to apply for a Diversity Visa. The program creates a diverse group each year by not giving fewer visas to regions that they have viewed as having “high-admissions” for immigrants, and not allowing any country to account for 7% of all Diversity Visas each year.
The Diversity Visa Lottery Program allows winners and their families to live, work, and study in the United States, classified as permanent residents. Diversity Visas account for around 4-5% of all Green Cards issued per year. On average, about 13.3 million people apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery every year, making the odds of being selected for the program small. Being selected by the Diversity Visa Lottery program also does not grant admission to individuals, but instead gives them the opportunity to apply for a Diversity Visa.
Currently, the Diversity Visa Lottery only accepts applications online. To qualify, people have to
- Have been selected for a diversity visa by DOS’s lottery,
- Have an immigrant visa immediately available at the time of filing and adjustment application,
- Are admissible to the United States.
For visa availability, you can check the DOS Visa Bulletin, which is updated monthly.
How to Read the DOS Visa Bulletin
To see the current month’s visa availability in the Diversity immigrant category, check Section B. The chart shows when the Diversity immigrant cut-off has been met. When said cut-off has been met, visas will be available in that month for the applicants with Diversity immigrant lottery rank numbers lower than the specified cut-off numbers for their geographic areas pre-immigration.
Section C contains a chart displaying the Diversity immigrant category rank cut-offs for the following month. This represents the advance notification for Diversity immigrant visa availability. This is worth checking considering anyone with a lower rank number than the rank cut-off number shown in Section C is eligible to file for adjustment of status as soon as the monthly Visa Bulletin is published. This allows lottery winners to file for adjustment status six weeks before they actually can receive a visa number, which is required to be completed beforehand.
Process of Application and Required Evidence
Firstly, Form I-485 must be filed to receive a Green Card.
- Click here to be brought to the correct form: Form I-485
The required items of evidence required to complete Form I-485…
- Two photos in passport-style photos
- Copy of birth certificate
- Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)
- Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)
- Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp (if applicable)
- Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94)
- Certified copies of court records, only if the individual has been arrested
- Copy of the principal applicant’s selection letter for the diversity visa lottery from the Department of State
- Copy of the receipt from Department of State for the diversity visa lottery processing fee
- Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601)
- Applicable fees
- Deceptive agencies online will charge fee forms applications attempting to apply to the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, and falsely claim to individuals that they can increase their chances of winning. The only way to apply for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is to complete an entry form on the Department of State website, which is free! The only time individuals will be required to pay fees while participating in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is if they have been selected, there will be fees to continue the process.
- Fraudsters have been known to send email and spoof cards claiming you have won the Diversity Visa lottery. Never send money to someone claiming you have won the lottery. These emails commonly prompt recipients to pay a “visa processing fee” before they can obtain a guaranteed green card, but this is all false information. Even if the email looks professional and legitimate, always make sure to check the email address to ensure it is an official government contact.
- There was a case brought before the House Judiciary Committee, by Stephen A. Edson, reported that an agent had enrolled an entire phone book in Bangladesh in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program only with the purpose of extorting money from winning applicants, or selling their winning slot to other individuals.
- Applications of the Diversity Visa lottery can only find out if they were selected to continue with the Diversity Visa processing by checking their status online through the DV Entrant Status Check.
- Internet sites and official United States government email addresses will always end in “.gov”. If you are on a website or receive an email from someone that does not end in “.gov”, it is not an official United States government address.