How To Win the Immigration Lottery

October 15, 2020 Mary Heinemann

If you want to become a legal permanent resident of the US, and have already entered legally on a different (nonimmigrant) visa or are patiently waiting in your home country for an opportunity: the Diversity Visa lottery might be an option for you. It is run through the US Department of State. There are 50,000 slots available. This year it opened October 7, 2020 and runs through November 10, 2020. The online application is free, and can be found here:

Click on this link to begin the application, instructions are provided here and links directly to the application. This year’s winners would be able to enter the United States in 2022. DV-2022 Entrants should keep their confirmation number until at least September 30, 2022.

International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit (IIMD) specializes in family & humanitarian immigration law, and is able to help applicants to fill this application for a nominal fee. Contact us today with questions or to make an appointment. Immigration legal staff is available Monday through Friday 9AM-5PM to assist virtually or in-person. If you already qualified for the DV and want help with adjusting your status, IIMD is here to help! Call us at (313) 871-8600 x234.

Who is Eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery?

Country of birth

In order to qualify for the Diversity Visa, you must have been born in a country that sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past 5 years. There is some yearly variation in the countries that are eligible, but Canada, China, India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom never make the list, because these countries all send a large number of immigrants to the United States.

If your native country is not eligible, there are still two ways you could qualify for the Diversity Visa:

If your spouse was born in an eligible country, you can apply with your spouse and choose your spouse’s birth country on your application.

If neither of your parents were legal residents in your own country of birth, you can choose your mother or father’s country of birth.


The second major requirement for Diversity Visa applicants is that you must have at least a high school degree, or at least two years of work experience within the past five years in a profession that requires at least two years of training, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

General admissibility requirements

If you’re selected in the green card lottery, you and your family members will have to meet the same requirements as any other U.S. green card applicant. Certain types of criminal records could make you ineligible for a green card. There are also some medical conditions that could make it difficult or impossible to get a green card.

What if I’m Married to a U.S. Citizen or Have Other Family Ties to the United States?

If you’re married to a U.S. citizen, you could still apply for the Diversity Visa lottery. However, there’s little advantage to doing so, since you will almost always be able to come to the United States sooner by applying for a marriage-based green card instead.

If you have another family member who could sponsor your green card, it might still be worthwhile to apply for the Diversity Visa lottery. Some family-based immigration categories—for example, siblings of U.S. citizens—take a very long time, and you would be able to come to the United States much sooner if you won the Diversity Visa lottery.