I Won the DV Lottery, But How Do I Show I Won't Become a Public Charge If I'm Still in School?

Avoiding inadmissibility as a likely public charge.


I won the green card lottery and I am going to graduate from university soon. I know that I need to show that I will not become a public charge in order to be eligible for a green card, but because I’m currently in school and unemployed, I’m wondering how I can do this. Any advice?


Although Diversity Lottery (“DV Lottery”) winners do not need to file an I-864 Affidavit of Support in order to apply for permanent residence, they will 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.

You can do this by either:

  • -- demonstrating that you have sufficient income and other assets to support yourself once you are granted permanent residence, or
  • -- having a friend or relative who has legal status in the U.S. complete Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and agree to sponsor you during your time in the United States. For more information on this, see Filling Out Form I-134, Affidavit of Support to Help a U.S. Visa Applicant.

If you are currently unemployed because you are attending college or a vocational training program, you should gather as much documentation as possible to show that you have enough assets to avoid relying on public assistance. This evidence can include:

  • -- letters from banks and financial institutions where you have funds on deposit, showing the value of your accounts in U.S. dollars
  • -- copies of titles and deeds for vehicles, residences, and receipts for appliances, electronics, or any big ticket items, and
  • -- a job offer letter from a U.S. employer on company letterhead.

Also, make a copy of your diploma once you receive it and send it to USCIS or show it to the consular officer in order to demonstrate your employability. Keep in mind that it can be very 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 Nolo's articles about Diversity Visa Lottery Green Cards. An experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate this often-complicated process.

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