Diversity Visas (Visa Lottery)

The Diversity Visa program gives immigrants who come from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States the opportunity to apply for an immigrant visa, allowing them to come to the United States, to receive a green card, and to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. The application process is generally open every year in the fall for a limited period of time and can be accessed online. There is a cap on how many individuals may receive Diversity Visas every year. For Fiscal Year 2021, that cap is 55,000. When there are more than 55,000 applicants in a year, not all applicants will be selected, and the Department of State will use a randomized computer drawing to select applicants from six geographic regions, with no single country receiving more than 7% of the Diversity Visas in any given year. Applicants who are not selected may apply again in a future year.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. They must have been born in an eligible country, OR their spouse must have been born in an eligible country, OR at least one of their parents must have been born in an eligible country, provided that neither of their parents were born or legally resided in an ineligible country at the time the applicant was born; and
    1. Excluded from this program are citizens of Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
  2. They must have a high school education or its equivalent (defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education), OR they must have at least two (2) years of work experience within the past five (5) years that requires at least two (2) years of training or experience to perform.

In addition to the eligibility requirements described above, applicants also cannot be inadmissible to enter the United States for any reason. Grounds for inadmissibility are too numerous to list here, but may include previous unlawful entries, terrorist activities, commission of certain crimes, or infection with certain transmissible diseases.

Applicants who are selected for the program will be notified online only, through the “Entrant Status Check,” and they will have to fulfill additional requirements, such as filling out an additional, lengthy online application and paying various fees, prior to being issued an immigrant visa.

Successful applicants who travel to the United States and receive their green cards will be eligible for citizenship after five (5) years, provided that they apply, meet all the other requirements, and pass the citizenship test.

If you are interested in learning more about diversity visas, please contact Tanner Law Offices at 717-731-8114 to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.