Green Card Lottery: How does it Work?

The application period for the green card lottery is almost upon us. At noon on October 2, 2012 electronic applications will start to be accepted. There are no applications designed for submittal through the postal system, so it is absolutely necessary to file online. The Department of State will stop accepting applications at noon on November 3, 2012.

It is very important to keep track of the confirmation number you receive after you submit your application because without it you will have no way to check whether or not you have won. The State Department does not re-send confirmation numbers to applicants. However, if you take part in’s application service we will securely store your confirmation number until you need it or as back-up in case you lose it.

When the State Department draws winners in May of the following year approximately 100,000 potential immigrants will be selected to move on to the next step in the diversity visa process. However, not all selected from the lottery will receive a visa. There are only about 50,000 visas available per year and as soon as the government reaches this number the rest will just have to re-apply for next year.

However, there have been some exceptional years in which the visa quota was not reached with the 100,000 lottery winners and there was an additional drawing as is exemplified in the DV 2013 drawing. The second drawing occurs in the fall and those applicants will get a second chance to have their name drawn and attempt to get a diversity visa. This is why it is extremely important to keep your confirmation number handy because in the event of a re-draw if you have thrown your number out in frustration months ago you won’t know if you have won or not!

Regarding one’s chances in the lottery, it’s hard to say. Unlike conventional gambling lotteries where there are a set of numbers and an average amount of entries upon which the statistics can be based the green card lottery is based upon an entirely different system altogether. For the green card lottery the world is divided into regions and countries of which there must be equal statistical chance and there are certain countries that are excluded due to high immigration numbers over the past five years. Though it is uncertain what the chances are of winning the green card lottery you can be relatively confident that your chances are equal to anyone else in other eligible countries.