DV-2009: United States Diversity Visa (Green Card) Lottery begins

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Media Center » U.S. Green Card DV-2009 Lottery Video FAQ

The United States will begin accepting applications for the Diversity Visa 2009 Lottery (DV-2009 or "Green Card" Lottery) at 12 noon East Coast time for the U.S. on Wednesday, 03 October 2007. The application period will end at 12 Noon Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, 02 December 2007. All applications must be submitted by electronic Entry Form on the Internet; paper entries will not be accepted.

Below are some frequent questions and answers about the United States Diversity Visa, otherwise known as the Green Card Lottery.

First of all, what exactly is a United States "Green Card?"

The United States "Green Card" is a "permanent" residency visa that must be renewed every ten years. Many immigrants naturalize and become US citizens after spending five years in the U.S. Even if a person doesn't naturalize as an American, a Green Card gives almost all the same rights to a person as if they were a citizen.

What qualifications are necessary?

Normally, to obtain a Green Card, you will need to be sponsored by an employer, marry someone in the U.S., or invest large amounts of money in the U.S. This is frequently a difficult and time consuming process. As in many other countries, you will also need to show that you will not need to claim social benefits when you are in the country.

An extensive background check is also conducted on all applicants and persons listed on the applications. The information from all visa applications is saved permanently by the U.S. government. All information must be correct; mistakes can invalidate the application.

What is the "Diversity Visa Lottery?"

The idea behind the Diversity Visa Lottery (or the "Green card Lottery," as it is informally referred to) is to give the opportunity for immigration to people from cultural backgrounds that are considered under-represented in U.S. immigration statistics. The theory is that the American economy and culture are stronger when people from diverse backgrounds become part of U.S. society.

What changes are made to the Lottery each year?

Any country that has more than 50,000 immigrants that came to the U.S. during the previous 5 years becomes "ineligible." The U.S. publishes a list of these countries every year.

What is the current list of ineligible countries?

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

A very important thing to remember is that part of the determination of the eligibility for an individual is based upon their country of birth, not the country they currently live in or which country (or countries) they have citizenship with.

Is this always true? What if I was born in an ineligible country?

There are two possible ways for someone to get around this requirement.

On way is that someone may claim the birth country of their spouse on their own application. HOWEVER, both you and your spouse MUST be listed on the selected entry, and you MUST both be issued visas and enter the U.S. at the same time.

The other possibility is if you were born in a country that is ineligible, but if NEITHER of your parents were born in that country or resided there at the time of your birth, you may claim the country that one of your parents was born in for yourself on your application.

What other considerations are there?

The world is divided into six major regions for purposes of the Lottery. Selection of valid applications is limited for each region to some percentage of all the available Green Cards; the percentage changes each year based upon immigration statistics. Remember, the Diversity Visa Lottery is designed to give people that come from countries that are underrepresented in the U.S. immigration statistics an opportunity that they don't usually have.

What other qualifications are necessary?

There is only one other qualification for an applicant: they must meet either the education OR work experience requirement of the DV program. A person must have EITHER a high school education or its equivalent, and it is up to the applicant to prove this if their application is selected for an interview.

However, if a person does not have the formal education required, they may also claim two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Please see our "Do I Qualify?" form to check your eligibility.

If I win the Lottery, do I get my Green Card?

Not necessarily. If a person makes an application for a Green Card through the Lottery, and the application is selected, they will then be interviewed to determine if they can qualify for the Green Card. The Lottery is conducted by random computer selection early in the next year, after applications have been sorted to eliminate invalid ones.

After the lottery is held, people whose applications are selected will be notified by mail, NOT by email, to prepare for their interview. Everyone approved to receive a visa through the Lottery MUST obtain their visa before midnight, September 30th, 2009.

Can I bring other people to the U.S. with me?

Yes, but they may only be your spouse or your unmarried children under the age of 21. It is CRITICAL that they be listed on the original application. Anyone not listed on the original application will not be eligible. Also, they will not just be given a visa; they will have to meet all qualifications for a visa, the same as the applicant.

How many Green Cards will be awarded?

Up to 55,000 Green Cards may be approved each fiscal year through the Lottery process. 5,000 of the visas are reserved for applications from some Central American Nations by law and the remaining 50,000 are divided around the rest of the world.

How may I apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery?

The only way to apply is by using the internet and using the U.S. government website. You may do it yourself, or someone may do it for you. There must be no mistakes in the application. Small mistakes can disqualify the application from the Lottery or prevent a person from obtaining a Green Card even if they win.

You must submit recent individual photographs of all persons in the application, including your spouse and each child under 21 years of age, if applicable. You should include all step children and legally adopted children. This must also be submitted electronically for the DV lottery.

AND, this is VERY important: only one application per person is allowed. If the government determines that one person applies more than one time, for any reason, all of their applications will be invalid and it will become part of their permanent records.