Immigration Lawyer New York

Diversity Visa Lottery


Every year, the Department of State opens a limited online registration period for the Diversity Visa Lottery. As its name suggests, the Diversity Visa Lottery is about diversifying the pool of immigrants, so it is only open to nationals of countries that have sent a total of fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past 5 years.

What does that mean?

As its name suggests, the Diversity Visa Lottery is about diversifying the pool of immigrants. It is only open to nationals of countries that have sent fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past 5 years. For the most recent registration period in Oct.-Nov. 2011, nationals of (people who were born in) the following countries were NOT eligible to apply for the Diversity Visa lottery: BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.
The registration period for DV 2013 was open from noon, Eastern Daylight Time, October 4, 2011 through noon, Eastern Daylight Time, November 5, 2011. All entries must be submitted online during an open registration period via the Electronic DV Entry Form DS-5501, at

After submitting an electronic application, DV applicants can use the information provided on their confirmation page from that DV registration period to check the status of an entry online, to find out whether their number was selected in the lottery.  That process was optional in earlier years, including for those who registered between October 2, 2009 and November 30, 2009, for DV 2011, but DV Lottery winners are no longer notified by regular mail, so checking online with the State Department is now a mandatory part of the process. Please be mindful that lottery winners are required to check their case status online, as there has been an increasing incidence of fraudulent spam claiming to notify individuals of winning the Diversity Visa Lottery.

PAST PARTICIPANTS, PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Paper notification has been phased out, and will not happen for this year's registrants! DV 2012 & DV 2013 registrants will only be able to verify whether or not they get a winning number via Entry Status Check online with the Department of State. Winners will not be notified by mail.

Please note that the program year indicated during the registration period dictates when you must complete your case: If you registered during the period in the fall of 2008 for "DV 2010", and you got a winning lottery number that became currently available, and then you filed for adjustment of status or applied for an immigrant visa, your case must have been completed by the end of September 2010, or that application is now void. "DV 2011" applicants who registered in October of 2009 and found out that they had a winning number in the summer of 2010 must file in time to complete their cases before the end of September 2011.

Do I need a sponsor?

Diversity Visa ("DV") applicants do not need a sponsor, such as an employer or immediate family member in the United States. However, they must meet the basic requirements for participation in the lottery, including completion of at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, and must have at least two years of work experience within the last five years, in an occupation that requires at least two years of training, education beyond high school, or experience. If you enter the DV Lottery more than once in the same year, all of your entries for that year will be disqualified, but you can enter the lottery once every year as long as your native country remains eligible.

Karin Wolman is admitted to the bar in the State of New York.
Her practice is limited to U.S. Immigration & Nationality law.

This website is for general information purposes only. This information is not legal advice, and is not intended to serve in place of legal advice. You should consult with an attorney about your specific question or situation. Hiring an attorney is an important personal and professional decision, and should not be undertaken lightly.

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