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Immigration Client Alert: Diversity Visa ("Green Card Lottery") Registration

September 29, 2014

On Wednesday, October 1, 2014, online registration for the Diversity Visa (DV) 2016 Program will begin.

Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. A limited number of visas are available each fiscal year. The DVs are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.  Selectees are chosen through a random computer drawing, therefore the process is commonly referred to as the “green card lottery”. 

For fiscal year 2016, there will be 50,000 DV numbers available. While there is no fee to register for DV 2016, there are specific guidelines on who is eligible to register.

Requirements: 

For DV-2016, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

A complete list of countries whose natives are eligible for DV-2016 can be found in the DV 2016 Program Instructions. Applicants not born in an eligible country may qualify via one of the following family relationships.


Spouse:  If the applicant’s spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible, the applicant can claim the spouse’s country of birth—provided that both the applicant and spouse are named on the selected DV entry, are issued diversity visas, and enter the United States simultaneously.

Parent(s):  If the applicant was born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither of the applicant’s parents were born or legally resident in that country at the time of the applicant’s birth, the applicant may claim the country of birth of a parent if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV-2016 program.


Each applicant must also meet the education/work experience requirement by having:

  • a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education; OR
  • two (2) years of work experience within the past five (5) years in an occupation requiring at least two (2) years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online database will be used to determine qualifying work experience.


How to apply:

Eligible applicants may register beginning Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4) noon (EDT). Registration will close on Monday, November 3, 2014 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4). All registrations must be submitted online at: https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/

Complete instructions on the process and requirements can be found at the Department of State’s DV Instructions webpage