How to Apply for the Green Card Lottery

Introduction: What is the Green Card Lottery?

The Green Card Lottery is an immigration program in the United States that distributes 50,000 green cards to immigrants every year.

Green Cards, otherwise known as Permanent Resident Cards, are immigration documents that accompany Permanent Residency, an immigration status.

With Permanent Residency an immigrant has the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely.

The Green Card Lottery is one of the quickest ways to immigration to the U.S. and the registration period is coming up.


Before starting the process of registration it is important to determine whether or not one is eligible.

All immigration options have some form of preliminary eligibility assessment, but fortunately the Green Card Lottery has probably the least number of requirements of any of the options.

Immigrants only have to show that they meet two requirements: one for education and one for location.

The education requirement states that applicants must have at least a high school education. The sole exception to this requirement is if the immigrant belongs to a profession which required two years of training and they have had two years of experience on top of these two years of training.

The Green Card Lottery is only available to people from certain countries. Immigrants in the U.S. tend to come from a few countries and the lottery aims to help people who are not from those countries immigrate to the U.S.

Therefore the State Department puts together a list every year of the countries with the highest immigration numbers to the U.S. This is called the designated countries list. People who are from one of those countries are not allowed to enter the Green Card Lottery.

There is an exception to this rule, though.

A person could be from one of the designated country and still apply for the Green Card Lottery if one of their parents or their spouse is from a country not on the designated list. They simply claim their parent’s or spouse’s country of origin.

If both of these requirements are fulfilled an immigrant can move on to registration.


Application is not the word used when referring to entering the Green Card Lottery, rather registration is the correct term.

Immigrants register for the lottery during a period of time which normally falls between early October and early November.

Registrants log on, fill out the relevant form, attach digital file versions of their photographs (of them and their dependents) and then submit the form.

When registration is complete the registrant receives a confirmation number. This is a very important part of the process and must be kept safe. There’s no way to replace this number if it is lost.

What next?

On May 1 of the year following the registration period, applicants are allowed to check their statuses on the State Department’s website.

Winners of the Green Card Lottery are then to apply for a visa for entry into the United States or adjust their status if they are already inside of the country.