Each year, the State Department makes 55,000 green card numbers available for individuals who apply through the diversity lottery program. Entrants have until Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at noon EST to register online at the State Department’s official lottery website. Entry for the lottery is free, but applicants must adhere to strict registration standards. Eligible applicants must be from a qualifying country and have a high school education (or equivalent) or at least two years of qualifying work experience. Spouses and/or children can be included as derivatives.

The program, which was established by the Immigration Act of 1990, came about as a bipartisan effort to diversify the pool of individuals who are immigrating to the United States. Countries where more than 50,000 individuals (family or employment-based) have immigrated to the United States in the last 5 years are ineligible. Canada, China (mainland), Dominican Republic, el Salvador, India, Jamaica, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, the U.K. (except Northern Ireland), and Vietnam, have been ineligible since the program’s inception. In addition to those countries, natives of Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Nigeria and Pakistan are  ineligible to apply for the 2021 program for the same reason.

The available diversity visas are distributed among six regions of the world depending on whether the region has been a “high-admission region” or “low-admission region” in the previous five years. Although only 55,000 visas are available, the Department of State randomly selects about 100,000 applicants, as some applicants are expected to fail general requirements or may decide to withdraw and not continue the process. Even still, the likelihood of being selected for a diversity visa is slim. The application pool for the program has exceeded 23 million individuals in recent years, which makes the chances of winning less than one percent.

Not liking those odds? Schedule a consultation at Stern & Curray to explore whether a more practical route to permanent residence is available for you.


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