The U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery (DV) is a well-known program that is applied for by millions of people globally each year looking for a chance to be able to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder) in the United States.
Registration for the 2025 U.S. Green Card Diversity Lottery is has closed on November 7th 2023. We expect the 2026 Lottery will open in October 2024.
Our expert U.S. Immigration Lawyers have answered the most common US Green Card Lottery questions including:
- What is the U.S. Green Card Lottery?
- Green Card Lottery for Australian Citizens
- Applying for the Diversity Visa Lottery
- What are the Requirements?
- Which Countries are eligible?
- What are the Chances of Winning?
- When Can I Apply for DV the Lottery?
- How to Apply for the Green Card Lottery?
- When is the Deadline for the Green Card Lottery?
- Need Help with a Green Card Lottery Application?
What is the U.S. Green Card Lottery?
The U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (also known as the green card lottery) is a lottery system operated by the U.S. Department of State. The DV lottery issues up to 55,000 immigrant visas under the program during each U.S. fiscal year (October 1 to the following September 30).
This program has roots dating back to 1986 to create an immigration program that operated outside of the traditional family, asylum, employment, and investment pathways. The Immigration Act of 1990 created a permanent Diversity Visa program that is in operation today.
The goal of the program is to increase the diversity of immigrants to the U.S. by selecting those from countries with low numbers of immigrants to the U.S. within the previous five years. Diversity visas are distributed among six regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, the Caribbean, and Oceania.
An applicants’ country of birth determines their designated country and region. Therefore, Australians born in Australia are designated within Oceania.
Green Card Lottery 2023 for Australian Citizens
Those born in Australia have generally always been eligible to apply for selection in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. Australians will likely be eligible to apply for the U.S. Green Card Lottery (DV-2025) in October 2023. Australia has not yet been considered a “high admission” country and it is unlikely that Australia will be considered one for DV-2025.
Applying for the Diversity Visa Lottery
The Diversity Visa Lottery is an application submitted annually for permanent residency visas available for each country, based on the country of birth. The application is initially free and you are allowed to apply every year if you like. Online registration for the 2025 Diversity Lottery is expected to open in October 2023 and can be found at the U.S. Department of State’s webpage at: https://dvprogram.state.gov/
There is also a helpful video put together regarding the application process. You can submit an application based on your country of birth.
What are the Green Card Lottery Requirements?
The important primary requirements for the Diversity Visa Immigrant Visa Program for filing and being eligible for the program are as follows:
- The applicant must be born in an eligible county. The applicant’s country of residence or citizenship does not typically determine eligibility. There are two exceptions to this requirement; however, the exceptions are rarely used and should be discussed with someone on our team to determine eligibility. It is important to select the correct country at the time of application as this usually cannot be changed.
- The applicant must meet the education or work experience requirements of the program. To meet the education requirements, the applicant must have a high school education or equivalent as defined by the successful completion of a 12-year formal course of education. To meet the work experience requirements, the applicant must have worked at least two years in the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, with guidelines available online at the O-Net Online database
It is important to note, that an applicant must list an eligible spouse or children at the time of the initial application to enter into the lottery unless the spouse or child is already a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident. Failure to list all eligible children or a spouse will result in disqualification of the applicant and a possible refusal of visa applications. An after-acquired spouse, or child born after the time of entry can later be added to an application if selected.
Please note, de facto partners do not qualify as a spouse for U.S. immigration purposes. A spouse only qualifies based upon a legal marriage.
Which Countries are Eligible for the U.S. Green Card Lottery?
Every year the U.S. Department of State determines which countries are considered “high admission” countries in a review of family and employment visas issued during the previous five years. If over 50,000 visas were issued, then that country is a “high admission” country. A foreign national born in a high admission country would not be eligible for entry.
In DV-2024, the following countries were considered high admission countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom and its dependent territories (except Northern Ireland), and Vietnam. The high admission countries for DV-2025 will be available in the instructions once they're released and can be found on the Diversity visa entry instruction page.
What are the Chances of Winning the Green Card Lottery?
The chances of being selected and receiving a visa are difficult to precisely state. The odds of being selected is determined by how many applications are made, the number of those applications from your country of birth, the distribution of visas in the six regions, the number of applicants receiving approved visas, and numerous other factors. Thus, it is very difficult to determine a precise number.
When Can I Apply for the DV Lottery?
Generally, the application period for the Green card Lottery is open in October each year. Registration for the 2025 Green card lottery is expected to open in October 2023. The Department of State will provide an announcement and issue DV-2025 instructions for the opening of submissions for DV-2025. Typically, applications are only received during the month of October, so you will want to make sure you submit your application quickly.
How to Apply for the Green Card Lottery?
When the DV-2025 program opens for selection (October 2023), applicants will be able to apply through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website.
Individual applications are submitted through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website once selection opens. Instructions for the program are listed on the U.S. Department of State website. It is crucial that you read the instructions carefully, noting all required documentation including your passport number, photos, and so forth.
Those who enter the lottery system are usually notified of their selection in the following May. Those selected in the lottery are given a designated “rank number” that indicates the order of processing for their visa during the fiscal year. It is important to note that not all who are selected in the lottery may be eligible for an immigrant visa or admissible to the U.S.
If selected in the lottery, the Applicant then can begin a more detailed and lengthy application for an immigrant visa after the start of the fiscal year based upon their designated rank number. The Department of State keeps track of visa numbers and processing in the Visa Bulletin monthly.
When is the Deadline for the Green Card Lottery?
There will be a designated application period issued by the U.S. Department of State, typically lasting one month or less. Once selections are announced, all applicants must apply for visas during the same fiscal year (October through September). All visas must be issued by September 30.
Need Help with a Green Card Lottery Application?
We are happy to discuss the DV application process, or for those who have already been selected for the DV program, your situation for visa applications for the upcoming fiscal year starting October 01.
Worldwide Migration Partners can advise on any currently selected application or discuss future applications. If you would like further information regarding your eligibility, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
About The Author
Melissa Vincenty is a U.S. attorney, an Australian migration agent and the founder and managing director of Worldwide Migration Partners. Melissa has over 25 years of experience in migration law, including practicing at the world’s largest U.S. immigration firm and more than 15 years as a Country Specialist (China and Tibet) for Amnesty International USA.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is general in nature, may not, and is not intended to constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information, and is for general informational purposes only. It does not represent legal advice specific to any individual/s situation, and should not be relied on as such. Please contact us for a consultation for legal advice for your individual circumstances.