The Department of State (DOS) announced that it would begin accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery starting on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at noon EDT. Foreign nationals will have until Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at noon EDT to file online to enter the DV lottery. 55,000 green card numbers will be available for the FY 2021 DV lottery program, and the results will be announced in May 2020. Foreign nationals who are selected for the FY 2021 DV lottery will be able to submit their green card applications on October 1, 2020.

About the DV

The DV lottery is a statutorily mandated program from Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which provides for a class of “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. While there is no cost to register for the DV program, applicants must meet simple yet strict eligibility criteria to qualify. DOS selects DV applicants through a randomized computer drawing. DOS distributes diversity visas among six geographic regions, and no single country receives more than 7% of the available DVs for any given year.

For the FY 2021 DV lottery, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the U.S. in the previous five years:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (mainland-born)
  • Columbia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories
  • Vietnam
  • But, persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

Eligibility for the DV

Requirement 1: Individuals born in countries whose natives qualify may be eligible to enter. These can be found in the instructions published by DOS for the FY 2021 DV lottery.

If a foreign national is not born in an eligible country, there are two other ways in which they can still qualify for the DV:

  1. His or her spouse was born in a country whose natives were eligible. If this is the case, he or she may claim the country of birth of his or her spouse.
  2. He or she was born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither or his or her parents were born there or legally resident at the time of birth. If this is the case, he or she may claim the country of birth of one of his or her parents if its natives are eligible.

Requirement 2: Each applicant must meet the education/work experience requirement by having either of the following:

  1. At least a high school education or its equivalent (successful completion of a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education); or
  2. Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Registering for the DV

In order to register for the lottery, applicants must do the following:

  1. Submit an online form and a digital photo through the DV lottery website. Only one entry is permitted per person. Multiple entries will result in a disqualification. Applicants should carefully following the DOS’s official instructions.
  2. For FY 2021, the principal applicant must enter information from his or her valid international travel passport unless the applicant is stateless, a national of a Communist-controlled country and is unable to obtain a passport, or the beneficiary of an individual waiver approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State.
  3. Once an application is accepted, applicants will receive a confirmation number that they can use to check the status. DOS will not notify entrants in any form – the official website is the only source of results of the DV lottery. 

Please do not hesitate to contact our office with any further questions regarding this matter.