A person who wins the green card (diversity visa) lottery is not given a green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence) automatically. That person needs to meet various qualifications and go through an additional application process first. As part of this, the person must show that he or she will not become what's known as a "public charge." Overcoming this ground of inadmissibility can be a challenge for people who are, for instance, currently in school or unemployed.
The U.S. government has a specific idea of how much money someone needs to live in the United States without requiring government assistance. Your income or assets must be enough to support your (as well as members of your household moving to the U.S. with you) at the level of 125% of the current Poverty Guidelines or above. See the www.uscis.gov page containing Form I-864P for the exact figures, which are updated annually.
Even if you meet this amount, however, you can be deemed a public charge if the "totality of circumstances" suggest that you won't be self-supporting in the long term.
The good news is, unlike family visa applicants, Diversity Visa Lottery (“DV Lottery”) winners do not need to file an I-864 Affidavit of Support in order to apply for permanent residence.
They will nevertheless need to demonstrate to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of State (DOS) that they will not become a public charge (rely on public assistance benefits) during their time in the United States. The ways to do this include:
"Assets" means property like investments, savings, and real estate (so long as it can be easily converted to cash). So, if you don't have a current income, showing a source of wealth or cash can help your application for a green card.
Demonstrating that your income and assets will be sufficient has become more systematized under the Trump Administration, which introduced two new forms to the process, for just that purpose. You'll need to fill out either the USCIS Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency if you are adjusting status in the U.S., or if you're immigrating via a U.S. consulate abroad, State Department Form DS‑5540, Public Charge Questionnaire.
If family members are immigrating through the DV winner, they must also be listed on the Form I-134 as accompanying you, and the income and assets listed on Form I-134 must be enough to cover them, too.
If you are currently unemployed, you should gather as much documentation as possible to show that you either have enough assets to avoid relying on public assistance or will have a higher income soon. This evidence can include:
Also, if you are currently attending college or a vocational training program, make a copy of your school diploma once you receive it and send it to USCIS or show it to the consular officer. This should help demonstrate your employability. Keep in mind that it can be expensive to relocate permanently to the U.S., especially when you do not have an employment or credit history.
Winning the DV Lottery can be a great thing, but it is not a guarantee of a green card. For more information, see articles about Diversity Visa Lottery Green Cards. An experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate this often-complicated process.