As indicated in our previous blog posts, the ability to immigrate to the U.S. is often based on the proverbial “luck of the draw.” Immigration to the U.S. is easier when you have a familial relationship with a U.S. citizen, or happen to be a seven-foot-tall human being born to play in the NBA.
There is one path to a Green Card, however, that is based on a literal luck of the draw: the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Every year, 55,000 diversity visas (DVs) are drawn from random selection among all entries, and given to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Some countries are ineligible altogether (e.g. Great Britain).
Eligible applicants from eligible countries must have either a high school education (or equivalent) or two years of work experience, within the past five years, in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.
The odds of winning are difficult to calculate. In 2012, the DV visa lottery featured nearly 15,000,000 applicants (plus almost 5,000,000 spouses and children). But the DV visas are allocated on a country-by-country basis, meaning that the total number of visas available is different for natives of Country A versus Country B. Also, the total number of applicants varies wildly from country to country. As a result, an applicant from the island-nation of Tonga could have as much as a 15% chance of winning, whereas a native of Nigeria may have odds of less than 0.5%.
The application is FREE. Although applying for the visa lottery is relatively simple, the Department of State has issued an alert regarding scam websites and mailings. If you have questions about Diversity Visa Lottery Program, we at Rosi & Gardner would be happy to help you avoid these scams.
Once you are selected in the lottery, you must then file an application for permanent residence (Green Card). At that point, it is highly recommended you consult with an immigration attorney to prepare your application.