What is the Diversity Visa Program?

The Diversity Visa (“DV”) Program, also known as the green card lottery, first began in 1990. The program awards up to 55,000 immigrant visas per year to people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. The purpose of this lottery is to provide an opportunity for immigration for people from underrepresented countries.

To meet the eligibility requirements for the program one must:

  • Be a citizen of a country with a low immigration rate to the United States.
    • DOS provides a list each year detailing the eligible and ineligible countries. This list may change every year as immigration trends change.
  • Have graduated from high school or its equivalent or having qualifying work experience.

You can confirm your eligibly here.

Once applicants apply for the lottery, selected applicants are awarded the opportunity to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa. The purpose of the program is to maintain diversity in the United States. However, selection in the lottery is not a guarantee of successful immigration to the U.S. Selected applicants can apply to obtain a greencard and may receive an interview notice. However, they will have to successfully complete background and other ineligibility checks.

What happened this year?

The 2023 DV Lottery is now over. Note that for naming purposes, the year in the name refers to the fiscal year when the immigrant visas will be given starting in October of the previous calendar year. The entry period usually occurs almost a year earlier. Therefore, there is a two-year difference between the lottery name and its entry period.

This year, the DOS issued all the slotted visas available for the 2023 DV Lottery. How did this happen? Every year, DOS selects more applicants than available visas to ensure the maximum amount of visas available get issued. This ensures that even if some applicants who are selected are not able to receive a visa due to ineligibility, all 55,000 available immigrant visas are still given every year.

Selectees who provide all required information will be informed of their visa interview appointment through the E-DV website’s Entrant Status Check four to six weeks before the scheduled interviews with U.S. consular officers overseas. Each month, visas will be issued to those applicants who are eligible for issuance during that month, as long as visas are available. However, the lottery will end early if all 55,000 immigrant visas are issued before the year ends.

This year, all available immigrant visas have been issues. This means that if you applied for the 2023 DV Lottery, there are no more spots available. Selectees are encouraged to apply for the 2025 DV Lottery.

What’s next?

The 2025 Diversity Visa program entry period will open in early October of this year and anyone who is eligible should apply. Please check the DOS website to apply.

What are my other options to come to the U.S.?

Alternate Options:

Nonimmigrant (for a temporary stay in the U.S.):

  • H-1B: If the hiring organization requires a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study, the H-1B is a potential alternate option. The employer would be required to pay at least prevailing wage for the occupation in the location of the job, which does not include in-kind benefits, only salary. H-1B allocation is also limited by a quota of 85,000 visas (combining bachelor’s degree and master’s degree cap) for each year exists (not including H-1B Cap-exempt category). USCIS received more than 750,000 H-1B registrations for the next fiscal year. Finally, the costs of the H-1B must be paid fully by the employer.
  • L-1: If an organization has a hierarchical structure where its entities and activities are controlled by an umbrella governing body, the L-1 may be a viable alternative. This would require the applicant to transfer to the U.S. from a branch of the organization outside of the U.S., where they have been working for at least 1 of the past 3 years.
  • E-2: If an organization is owned by a foreign national, the E-2 visa may be an option for those coming to the United States to engage solely in international trade. However, there must be a substantial investment into the U.S. to qualify for this visa.

Green Card:

  • PERM: This alternative requires the U.S. labor market test in the geographical area where the job is offered to show there is no willing, able, and qualified U.S. worker available for the proffered position. This can be difficult for religious workers as it is a more expensive and complex process that requires the petitioning organization to cover all costs. The employer is required to pay the prevailing wage for the occupation in the location of the job, which may pose an additional challenge.
  • Multinational Manager/Executive
  • National Interest Waiver

To speak with an immigration attorney about the DV lottery or other visa options contact Grossman Young & Hammond: info@grossmanyoung.com

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