What Is the Green Card Lottery Process?

Overview of the Green Card Lottery

The Green Card Lottery Process can be defined as the steps that one takes to receive Permanent Residency in the United States through the Department of State’s Diversity Visa program.

Every year, the Department of State offers 50,000 visas to qualified people from countries with low immigration numbers to the United States in recent years.

Winners of the Green Card Lottery are then given the opportunity to apply for a visa to the U.S.

Permanent Residency (the ultimate goal of the Green Card Lottery) is an immigration status which gives the recipient the right to live, work, study and travel throughout the U.S. for as long as they care to do so.

Below, we will discuss some of the major benchmarks in the pathway to Permanent Residency through the Green Card Lottery.


Registration for the Green Card Lottery is the first step in the process.

The registration period normally occurs from early October to early November of each year.

The name of the Green Card Lottery is usually the letters “DV” followed by a four digit number representing the year it will be two years from the registration period.

For example:

  • If the name of the lottery is DV-2013, the registration period took place in 2011.
  • The next registration period will occur in 2013, therefore the name of that Green Card Lottery will be DV-2015.

Registration for the Green Card Lottery involves filling out a form online and showing initial eligibility.

Initial eligibility for the Green Card Lottery is very simple compared to other immigration programs and is composed of two parts:

  • Education. Applicants must have a high school education. Exception: two years of experience in a job that took two years to train for is acceptable.
  • Location. Applicants must be from an accepted country which is not on DOS’ list of designated countries. Designated countries are nations which have a large number of their citizens immigrate to the United States. The DOS keeps a list of designated countries on their site.

Confirmation Check

After an applicant has registered, they will receive a confirmation number.

This number serves to identify the applicant when the lottery drawing takes place.

It is very important to save this number because it cannot be replaced or retrieved. If it is lost, there is no way to get it back.

On May 1 of the year following the registration period, applicants should go to the Diversity Visa website to check their status.

When they type their confirmation number into this website, the site will then tell them whether they have won or not.

If they have won, they will proceed to the next step.

Visa Package

Winners of the Green Card Lottery will be sent visa packages.

These packages are to be filled out and sent to the Kentucky Consular Center.

If the visa package is accepted and the interview is successful, the applicant will then receive a visa.

It is very important to file one’s visa application as soon as possible as the number of visas available is quickly assigned.

Moving to the United States

The visa allows an immigrant to come to a U.S. port of entry where they then apply for entry.

If they successfully enter the U.S. they will then receive a Permanent Resident Card in the mail within a few months.