The DV lottery (diversity immigrant visa program)

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is also called the DV lottery, the visa lottery, or the green card lottery. Every year from 1995 to 2020, the USA awarded 50,000 visas through the program. In 2021, 55,000 visas will be awarded. People get chosen by random selection (by chance) in the visa lottery. If you win a visa, you can live, work, and study in the USA. After 5 years, you can apply for citizenship.

green card and US visa
Photo: iStock/Belterz

Please note the application period for 2021 is now finished. Check your status for 2021.

The DV lottery program for 2021

The Department of State has announced the diversity visa program for 2021. It says there will be 55,000 diversity visas (DVs) available. There is no cost to register for the DV lottery. Applicants who are selected in the program (selectees) must meet the requirements to qualify.

How can I apply for the DV lottery?

Apply between October 2, 2019 and November 5, 2019

The application period for 2021 is over.

Applicants must submit entries for the DV-2021 program electronically at between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Wednesday, October 2, 2019, and noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5), Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

Apply early!

Do not wait until the last week of the registration period to enter as there will be many people using the website and that will cause delays. No late entries or paper entries will be accepted.

Only enter once

The law allows only one entry per person during each registration period. The Department of State will detect multiple entries. Individuals with more than one entry will be disqualified.

Who can apply for the DV lottery?

  • You must have a high school education or a certificate that is the same as a high school diploma
  • You must show that you have two years of work experience in a job that requires at least two years of training or experience. Your experience must be in the last five years.
  • You must complete the (DS-260) application online during the enrollment period of October 2 to November 5, 2019. You cannot submit your entry at other times.
  • You will need a current passport from your country, unless you are from a communist country or unless you have a waiver from the US government that says you do not need a passport.
  • You must be from a country not listed below.

People who cannot apply for a diversity visa 

Diversity visas go to people from countries who have not sent many immigrants to the USA in previous years. In addition, no single country may receive more than 7 % of the available DVs in any one year.

For DV-2021, natives of the following countries were not eligible to apply:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (mainland-born)*
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories
  • Vietnam

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

Are there are any ways to qualify if I am from one of those countries?

If you were not born in an eligible country, there are two other ways you might be able to qualify:

Was your spouse born in a country whose natives are eligible?
If yes, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth – provided that both you and your spouse are named on the selected entry, are found eligible and issued diversity visas, and enter the United States simultaneously.

Were you born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but in which neither of your parents was born or legally resident at the time of your birth?
If yes, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV-2021 program. For more details on what this means, see the visa lottery’s official website.

Warning about DV lottery fraud

There are many websites and people that try to trick you into giving money to get a US visa. Do not believe them. You do not need to pay. The Department of State advises you to apply without one of these “visa consultants.” For example, a website such as will charge you $98 to file your application. Other websites pretend they official government websites. Remember:

  • It is free to enter the DV lottery 
  • You cannot increase your chance of winning by paying

You can read more information about diversity visa scams. And you can also find official information and enter the DV lottery.

Watch this video about how to apply to the lottery

Tips for applying

  • Do not make more than one application. You will be excluded from the lottery.
  • Gather all your information before you start to fill in the form. This will make the process easier for you.
  • Make sure you complete all entries on the form.
  • Look at the website of the US embassy or consulate in your country to find out whether your country may have additional lottery information.

Visa instructions in many languages

You can read and download the 2021 visa instructions in many languages from the Department of State.

Georgian/ქართულიUkrainian/українська мова
Russian/русский языкNepali/नेपाली
Polish/PolskiKhmer (Cambodian)/ខ្មែរ
Uzbek/(oʻzbek tili)/وزبیک تیلیRomanian/Românã

The information on this page is taken from the US Department of State. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.