Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 7, 2020

October 6, 2021. U.S. State Department publishes instructions for this year's diversity visa lottery open registration period (so-called DV-2023).

** LEGAL UPDATE **

The Diversity Visa Lottery is back for another year of entries from people in select countries around the world. The U.S. State Department has published instructions for this year's registration period (so-called DV-2023), which began October 6, 2021.

This annual program allows people from countries with historically low rates of immigration, who meet certain basic qualifying criteria, to enter a drawing for the right to apply for a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence). For Fiscal Year 2023, a total of 55,000 diversity visas (DVs) are being made available.

This year's application period runs from October 6, 2021 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4) to Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5).

The State Department recommends that people register early during this window of opportunity. Waiting until the final week of the registration period could risk your ability to get through the system, since heavy demand can slow the website significantly.

A lottery registration entry can be submitted only using a computer or similar electronic means, at the State Department's website, dvlottery.state.gov. (By the way, if you click this link before the entry period opens, you'll see only language saying that last year's entry period is finished.)

Only one entry per person is allowed. If, however, one family member's entry is selected as a "winner," that person can apply to bring family "derivatives." This means a spouse (opposite sex or same-sex, if legally married according to the laws of the state or country where the marriage took place), as well as children under the age of 21 who remain unmarried through green card approval.

The basic rules for this year's visa lottery have not changed much from those of previous years. As before, the person must make sure their country is among the eligible ones.

You can NOT submit an entry if you are from one of the following countries (which list has seen some additions and subtractions since last year):

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

People from all other countries can register. Realize, however, that you might run into other complications if your country does not have good diplomatic relations with the United States.

The main applicant must also meet strict eligibility criteria. For example, applicants must show that they have accomplished a certain level of education, to demonstrate that they are employable in the United States. (See Winning a Green Card Through the Visa Lottery for more.) They must also have a valid passport from their country.

You will need to wait until next year—specifically, until May 8, 2022—to see whether you were selected to continue with this process. You will not receive any notification from the State Department, but will need to check the same website you first applied through, www.dvlottery.state.gov. You will need to have the confirmation number saved from your entry registration on hand. (See How Will You Know If You Have Been Selected for the DV Lottery? for details.)

The online list of lottery "winners" will be accessible through September 30, 2023. If you wait that long to check whether your name was selected, however, you're guaranteed to lose out entirely. The U.S. government always approves more diversity visa entries than it has visas available for. It figures that some people who register will later drop out or be denied as ineligible. But, its guesses aren't necessarily on target. If you don't act quickly, both in checking your selection and in following up afterwards with a visa or green card application, the visa numbers could simply run out before you finish the long and complicated application process.

For details, see one of Nolo's books covering this topic (U.S. Immigration Made Easy or How to Get a Green Card) or the Diversity Visa Lottery Green Cards section of Nolo's website.

Effective Date: October 6, 2021