US Visa Lottery Requirements

The Green Card Lottery is a relatively simple program and the requirements are quite easy to meet for many people all over the world.

The lottery goes by a variety of different names such as the Green Card Lottery, the Diversity Visa Program or, especially this year, DV-2015. All of the names effectively describe the same program.

The lottery awards about 50,000 visas to immigrants all over the world in an effort to diversify immigration numbers. “Diversity” will be discussed later in this blog.

This program is special in terms of immigration programs in the world as it has very few requirements for registration. However, while it is quite easy to qualify for an initial drawing of the lottery, the next stage, the actual visa application, is somewhat stricter and further filters out applicants.

Below we discuss the requirements of the Green Card Lottery at two of its stages.

Education Requirement

Immigrants who enter the United States must be sufficiently skilled to be able to support themselves financially. The government accesses a person’s preparedness for the job market through a simple examination of their education.

Registrants for the Green Card Lottery should have at least a high school education. This means that they have completed their primary education and four years of secondary education as well.

Typically high school diplomas are the only evidence of education accepted and other certificates are not taken as proof.

There is an alternative way to show the U.S. government that a registrant is financially self-sufficient. If the applicant has two years of experience in a job that took two years to train for (effectively a completed apprenticeship for a trade) they may qualify for the Green Card Lottery as well.

Location Requirement

The Green Card Lottery only grants visas to people who hail from countries that do not contribute greatly to the immigration numbers to the U.S.

Only people from certain countries are allowed to register for the Green Card Lottery. The countries that are chosen as being ineligible are sometimes referred to as designated countries of origin.

The designated countries of origin are selected based on the 5 years of immigration statistics prior to the Green Card Lottery in question.

Although the newest designated countries of origin for the DV-2015 have not yet been released, there are certain countries that are always on the list because it is popular for people to emigrate from them to the U.S. For example, here are some of the regularly designated countries of origin:

  • The United Kingdom
  • China
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • India

There is a workaround for people from these countries. If a registrant’s spouse is from one of these countries they can claim their spouse’s nationality provided that they both enter the U.S. at the same time.

Registrants can also claim their parents’ nationalities in their applications.

Visa Application Requirements

After a registrant has won the Green Card Lottery they will be allowed to apply for a visa. One of the primary restrictions, and things that the State Department will check, is criminality.

Applicants with a criminal history will most likely be denied unless the charge is to be found baseless or politically motivated.