How Does One Become Eligible for the Green Card Lottery?

The eligibility requirements for the Green Card Lottery change a little bit every year, but unfortunately there is very little one can do to influence what they will be.

However, the eligibility requirements are very wide and lots of people can be eligible for entry into the lottery later this fall (spring in the southern hemisphere).

Education Requirement

The education requirement is one part of the Green Card Lottery that does not change from year to year. Regardless of where an applicant is from they must have either

  • A high school degree or diploma (some countries have equivalent education programs under other names, generally these are acceptable, but it may be a good idea to check with the State Department to see if it is acceptable.)
  • Two years of experience in a job which required at least two years to train in. (A list of acceptable trades and professions are available through the US State Department.)

Countries of Origin

This set of requirements is most variable in terms of which countries are allowed to enter. The list of acceptable countries changes on a yearly basis and is developed based on immigration information from the previous years, this makes it somewhat unpredictable.

Generally there are a set of countries that are excluded year after year because they traditionally send many immigrants to the United States. For example: Canada, China, Mexico, and the United Kingdom all have very high levels of immigration to the United States and are therefore excluded from the lottery.

However, even if you come from a country that is excluded from the lottery you can still have a chance to apply. By claiming either one of your parents’ or your spouse’s country of origin you can apply for the Green Card Lottery.