Each year, the United States conducts a Diversity Visa Lottery, also known as a Green Card Lottery. This program gives people from countries that have been underrepresented in family and employment based immigration a chance to come to the United States. The Green Card Lottery is a random drawing that allows 55,000 people to obtain Green Cards.

To be eligible for the Green Card Lottery, applicants must be from a country that meets low immigration qualifications. Countries that sent 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years are not eligible to submit an application. Currently, due to their high immigration rates, natives from the following countries are excluded from participating:

Bangladesh

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Brazil

Canada

China (mainland only)

Columbia

Dominican Republic

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Ecuador

El Salvador

Haiti

India

Jamaica

Mexico

Nigeria

Pakistan

Peru

Philippines

South Korea

United Kingdom

Vietnam

Citizens from all remaining countries are eligible to enter the Green Card Lottery. The visas are distributed on a regional basis, and the lower the immigration rate from a particular region, the higher the number of visas they will receive under this program.

In addition to being from a qualifying country, applicants must also demonstrate an adequate education or work history. Applicants must have at least a high school education or a foreign equivalent. Applicants may also be considered for the Green Card Lottery if they have at least two years of experience in a broad array of occupations as set forth by the United States government. A complete list of those occupations is available on Eligibility.com.

Proof of either of these does not need to be submitted when applying for the Green Card Lottery. Winners will be expected to provide proof only if they are selected in the drawing.

Because the United States limits the number of winners by percentage from each participating country, in countries where there is an extremely low entry rate, applicants have a much better chance of winning a coveted Green Card. That’s because no single country can win more than 7 percent of the available visas in the Green Card Lottery. Applicants can also improve their odds of winning by having a husband and wife submit separate applications to participate.

To become eligible for the Green Card Lottery, applicants can apply online only. There is no charge to apply and no other form of registration is accepted. Registration takes about 15 minutes and applicants will need to submit a recent individual digital photograph of themselves, their spouse and any children who are not married and under 21 years old.