Green Card Lottery FAQ's
Should I apply to the Green Card Lottery?
Most people wait years to get their Green Card. The Green Card Lottery is a way to skip ahead and avoid that wait. If you qualify, it means the U.S. government needs you in America to help diversify the population. It's the sole reason the program exists.
What is the Green Card Lottery?
It is a program created by the United States government that grants 50,000 permanent residence visas (also known as Green Cards) each year using a law that was passed by Congress in 1990. The lottery winners are chosen randomly.
The annual Green Card Lottery makes permanent resident visas available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. These Green Cards allow them to legally live, work and study permanently in the United States and to enter and leave the country freely. Green Card holders also receive health, education, and other rights, and they can sponsor relatives for Green Cards.
How does the Green Card Lottery work?
There are certain eligibility requirements to be met if you wish to participate in the Green Card Lottery. Eligible participants will have to submit an electronic application during the submission period that will be announced by the Department of State. This submission period is expected to start in October and stay open until the beginning of November of each year.
If you do meet the stated eligibility requirements, your Green Card entry must be submitted during the month of October. The results for your submission will be released May of the following year.
One of the most important things to realize about the Green Card Lottery is why it’s named how it is. You’ll see it referred to as “DV Lottery”, followed by a year. If, for example, you see it named “DV Lottery 2018,” that means the winners would be getting a Green Card in the year 2018, but you actually need to apply two years prior, during the month of October in 2016. DV Lottery 2018 means applying in October of 2016.
If you win the Green Card Lottery and are granted a Green Card, you will get one either by Adjustment of Status (AOS) or through consular processing. AOS happens when you are in America and means your status is changed. Consular processing means you will meet someone in the U.S. Embassy in your home country and to complete the process of getting your Green Card.
What are the odds of winning? Do they vary by country?
The odds of winning the Green Card Lottery are roughly 1 in 50. Please remember that you can only submit one entry at a time — if you try and submit more, you will be automatically disqualified. The only way to increase your chances of winning is if your eligible spouse applies, too. This is because if you win, your spouse gets a Green Card and vice versa.
Are there restrictions? Am I eligible?
There are two main restrictions. The first is that you must be a born in an eligible country — you can find a list to check if you qualify here. The second is an education/work requirement.
The law requires that every applicant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or, within the past five years, have two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years training or experience.
A 'high school education or equivalent' is defined as successful completion of a twelve-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States or successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education which is comparable to a high school education in the United States. Documentary proof of education or work experience should not be submitted with the lottery entry, but must be presented to the consular officer at the time of the visa interview.
Can my spouse apply?
Yes, a spouse may apply with you. Husband and wife can submit separate applications for the Green Card Lottery program. This would effectively double their chances to win, since a successful applicant may take his/her spouse and unmarried children under 21 to the USA.
Can my children apply?
While there is no minimum age to apply for the program, the requirement of a high school education or work experience will effectively disqualify most persons who are under age 18. If your child is of age and meets the education requirements, he or she may apply. This will not improve your chances of winning.
Remember that you children must be included in your application, unless they are over 21 years of age.
How many times can I apply?
You can apply once per year. If you enter more times in one year, you will be automatically disqualified.
Are there any risks if I apply?
A potential issue is in the case of you winning the lottery, and then attempt to travel to the United States using a nonimmigrant visa (like a tourist or work visa) before your Green Card is issued. If this is the case, it may disqualify you from nonimmigrant visa options.
Even if you don’t win the lottery, it is advised that you disclose that you applied to the lottery when applying for a nonimmigrant visa. This would need be an automatic bar to being granted a nonimmigrant visa, but it does mean your application will be under extra scrutiny as you have now demonstrated intent to live in the United States.
Will my home country government know that I applied?
No, your home country government will not know that you applied. The only way they would find out is if your internet activity is monitored by their respective government agencies.
Will it affect my current residence?
Winning the Green Card Lottery and being granted a Green Card will not negatively impact your current residence and citizenship.
What if I already applied for a Green Card another way — will it impact that?
If you have previously applied for a Green Card, applying for the Green Card Lottery will NOT impact this at all. A possible issue arises when someone applies for the Green Card Lottery and then attempts to travel to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa. Since a nonimmigrant visa requires you to declare that you do not wish to stay in the U.S. for longer than your visa allows, and your previously filed Green Card Lottery entry shows you are interested in permanent residence in the U.S., your nonimmigrant visa application could be denied.
What if I am already in the United States?
Yes, you can reside in the United States and still file for the Green Card Lottery. If you win, the Green Card process is actually easier this way since you can simply file for Adjustment of Status.
What if I no longer have a valid visa and am in the United States?
If you no longer have a valid visa and are in the United States currently, you can still apply for the Green Card Lottery. If you do win, however, you would have to fly back to your home country in order to complete the Green Card process.
What happens if I win the green card lottery?
After you win the Green Card Lottery, you will need to gather supporting documents that prove that you do meet the eligibility requirements for the lottery. You will then complete the Green Card visa process as normal. Then you will have an appointment scheduled on your behalf by a consular office, where the processing of your case will be completed. After your visa is granted, you will receive a packet of information, known as the “Visa Packet.” You will not open this packet -- when you arrive in the United States, you will hand it to a Customers and Border Protection officer and be admitted as a permanent resident of the United States.
Can I immediately travel to the US?
No, you will not be able to immediately come to the United States. You will have to wait until you are actually granted a Green Card — this takes about a year-and-a-half to two years from your submission date.
Can I bring my spouse?
If you win the Green Card Lottery and receive your Green Card, you will be able to sponsor your spouse by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
Can I bring my children?
If your children are under the age of 21, you may bring them with you to the United States by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
How much does it cost to submit an entry?
Participation in Green card Lottery is free when you file directly with the U.S. government.
USA 'Green Card' Lottery Organization (USAGCL) charges the applicant for the professional service. Some of the benefits of using this service are:
- Peace of mind - be 100% sure your complete and accurate application is submitted for you when the lottery opens.
- E-file in 15 minutes - get it out of the way now and beat the rush this October.
- Lifetime entry - Your application can be automatically resubmitted each year, maximizing your chances of winning.
I think I would like to apply, how do I do it?
You can either apply directly through the government site or with us. When you apply with us, you get a professional review of your application to ensure it is not disqualified for any errors, guaranteed submission when the lottery opens, and the option to have your application entered into the lottery each year, until you win.
Is there paperwork involved?
No, there is not much paperwork needed to submit your Green Card Lottery entry. However, you need to complete an application form with basic biographical information and send individual photos of yourself and spouse/children.
Do I need to work with an attorney? A professional? Can I fill it out myself?
You don’t need an attorney or professional at all. The Green Card Lottery is very simple to fill out yourself. Unfortunately, it is easy to upload an incorrect photo with your application that would automatically disqualify your entry. In fact, 25% of the photos reviewed at USAGCL do not meet the government requirements.
So while USAGCL is not a law firm, we will still check your application to maximize your chances of winning.
When can I apply?
Though the Green Card Lottery is only open during the month of October, you can apply anytime during the year with USAGCL. We will save your application for you, submit it when the lottery opens and notify you via email.
What if I make a mistake on my submission?
If you make a mistake on your submission, your entry will be automatically disqualified and you will not even be notified about the reason. There is where the value of third party review processes comes in — we will check your application for you to maximize your chances of winning.
What if my submission is early or late?
If your application is early, that means it is submitted before the Green Card Lottery opens. This isn’t a problem — we’ll submit your application for you as soon as it opens. If your submission is late, or sent in right after the lottery season closes for that year, don’t worry; we will still send your application in, but it will just be sent in during the next lottery during the following year.
Is there anything I can do in my application to increase my odds of winning?
The only thing you can do to increase your odds of winning the Green Card Lottery is having your spouse (if he or she is also eligible) apply, too. This will give you two entries into the lottery, increasing your chances of winning. Please note that if you submit more than one application per person for any particular year, you will eb automatically disqualified.
Why should I use USAGCL?
When you apply with USAGCL, you get the peace of mind that comes with professional review of your application and automatic entry into the lottery when it opens. With the optional Lifetime entry, your application will be automatically submitted for you each year until you win!
USAGCL also makes the application available in multiple languages, so you can fill it out the way that’s most comfortable for you.
We offer low prices, we have over eight years of experience, and we have helped hundreds of happy winners live the American Dream. USAGCL is the preferred choice of thousands of customers — follow in their footsteps and apply today.