The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. The Act makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the USA.
How To Apply for a Diversity Visa
Applications are made through the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Applicants must determine if a visa is immediately available by checking the DOS Visa Bulletin. If a visa is available, applicants file Form I-485 (instructions available in a variety of languages). Registration is available online, and is generally open from October through December of each year.
Supporting Evidence needed for Form I-485:
- Two passport-style photos
- Form G-325A, Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
- Copy of government-issued photo identification
- Copy of birth certificate
- Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)
- Copy of passport page with admission (entry) stamp (if applicable)
- Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record (if applicable)
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
- Applicable fees
- Certified copies of court records (if you have ever been arrested)
- Copy of the principal applicants selection letter for the diversity visa lottery from DOS
- Copy of the receipt for the processing fee of the diversity visa lottery from DOS
- Principal applicants must also submit evidence of a high school diploma or its equivalent, or evidence of 2 years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least 2 years of training or experience in the past 5 years.
Chances of Winning
The chance of winning a visa is, unfortunately, extremely limited. There are usually over 10 million applicants for the 50,000 spots. No single country can receive more than 7 percent of the total number of visas, which is 3,500. The limits are place by country, but averages per continent can be estimated.
In order to allow for those who do not pursue immigrant visas, and for the applicants who do not qualify, more "winners" are selected in the lottery than there are visas available. Thus, being selected from the lottery does not guarantee an immigrant visa. After winning, you must be able to submit all the necessary documentation for the visa.
Diversity Immigrant Visa program