The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its instructions for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program (DV-2018) for fiscal year 2018 (October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018). The Lottery Program for DV-2018 registration will be open for only 33 days from October 4, 2016 at noon (EST) through close at noon (EST) on November 7, 2016. There are no significant changes from last year's Lottery Program, except that now applicants who lose their confirmation number can use a new tool on Entrant Status Check (ESC) on the DOS website to retrieve the number via email by entering certain identifying information.
The DOS makes 50,000 "green cards" available annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Applicants for Diversity Visas are chosen by a computer-generated random lottery drawing. The DOS will notify a participant's selection exclusively online. Beginning on May 2, 2017, applicants can check the status of their registration online via Entry Status Check at www.dvlottery.state.gov to determine whether they were selected. Entry Status Check will also notify selected participants and provide them with instructions on the procedures for the application process and will confirm appointments for visa interviews. All entrants must check on the DOS website via the Entry Status Check to determine whether they have been selected to participate in the Lottery. The Entry Status Check is the ONLY manner in which entrants will be notified of their selection. The DOS will NOT mail any correspondence to the selected applicants nor will it send out an email. Furthermore, the Entry Status Check will be the only way in which selected individuals will be provided further instructions on immigrant visa procedures.
The Diversity Visa "green cards" are available only to citizens of countries with lower rates of immigration and no visas are available to citizens of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. Within each region, no country may receive more than 7% of the available Diversity Visa "green cards" in any one year.
For the DV-2018 Lottery Program, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because they are the principal source countries of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration, or "high admission" countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (which includes Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands – but not Northern Ireland) and Vietnam. Foreign nationals born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery. A list of the countries whose natives are qualified for the DV-2018 Visa Lottery Program is contained in Exhibit A below.
NOTE: There is only one change in the countries of eligibility from FY2017, namely, nationals of Ecuador are now eligible for the DV-2018 Lottery Program.
NOTE: Even if you were born in one of the ineligible countries you may still qualify for a Diversity Visa if your spouse was born in an eligible country (and you are applying for the visa together) or if one of your parents was either born in or at the time of your birth was a legal resident of an eligible country.
The entries for the DV-2018 Lottery Program must be submitted electronically between noon (EDT/GMT-4) Tuesday, October 4, 2016 through noon (EST/GMT-5) Monday, November 7, 2016. The DOS will only accept entries made on an electronic diversity entry form which will be available at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. The DOS will not accept mail-in entries. Only one entry by and for each person during each registration period is permitted. Receipt of more than one entry per person will disqualify the person from registration, regardless of the source of the entry.
The procedures for submitting an entry in the DV-2018 Lottery Program are as follows:
Entry Form Contents. The DOS will only accept completed Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Forms submitted electronically at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. All entries by an applicant will be disqualified if more than one entry for the applicant is received, regardless of who submitted the entry. The entry form will ask the applicant to submit the following information:
Photograph Requirements. The entry will be disqualified if photographs are not submitted of the applicant, his/her spouse and each child under the age of 21 (including all natural children as well as legally-adopted and stepchildren, except a child who is already a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) even if the child no longer resides with the applicant and does not intend to immigrate under the Lottery Program. The photographs must be submitted electronically with the entry form. Group or family photos will not be accepted. There must be a separate photo for each family member. Each applicant, his/her spouse and each child will therefore need a computer file containing his/her digital photograph which will be submitted on-line with the entry form. The image file can be produced either by taking a new digital photograph or by scanning a photographic print with a digital scanner. The submitted digital images must conform to the following specifications:
After an applicant submits his/her entry, the DOS will send him/her an electronic confirmation notice of receipt of a completed entry form. Applicants will be selected at random by computer from among qualified entries. All entrants must check on the DOS website via the Entry Status Check whether they have been selected to participate in the Lottery on or after May 2, 2017 through September 30, 2018. The Entry Status Check is the ONLY manner in which entrants will be notified of their selection. The DOS will NOT mail any correspondence to the selected applicants nor will it send out an email. The DOS normally notifies approximately 100,000 applicants that they have been selected through the DV Lottery Program. However, only 50,000 "green cards" are available annually. The green cards based upon the DV-2018 Lottery Program will be issued between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. However, because more individuals will be registered than there are immigrant visas available, a registered applicant who wishes to receive his/her immigrant visa must be prepared to act quickly after being notified, especially if he/she is assigned a favorable lottery number in the random selection process. The DOS emphasized that random selection in the lottery process does NOT guarantee that an applicant will receive a "green card."
In order to qualify for a "green card" through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, each applicant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or, within the past five years, have two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years of training. A high school education or its equivalent is defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States or successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a high school education in the United States. Evidence of educational work experience should not be submitted with the lottery entry but must be submitted to the consular official or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer at the time of the visa or adjustment of status interview. In order to determine eligibility based on work experience, definitions from the Department of Labor's (DOL) O*Net On-Line database will be used.
There is no charge to enter the annual DV Lottery Program. The DOS does not employ outside consultants or private services to operate the program. A qualified entry submitted electronically directly by the applicant has an equal chance of being selected by the computer at the DOS Kentucky Consular Center as does an entry submitted electronically through a paid intermediary who completes the entry for the applicant. However, if an applicant or a paid intermediary submits more than one entry per person, the person will be disqualified from the program. A special DV Lottery Case processing fee will be payable later to the DOS by persons who "win" the lottery and are processed for a "green card" based upon the lottery program.
Except as noted, the list below shows the countries qualified within each geographic region for the DV-2018 Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program.
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Republic of
Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Sao Tome and Principe
* Persons born in the areas administered by Israel, Jordan and Syria prior to June 1967 are chargeable, respectively, to Israel, Jordan and Syria. Individuals born in the Gaza Strip are chargeable to Egypt; individuals born in the West Bank are chargeable to Jordan; individuals born in the Golan Heights are chargeable to Syria)
NOTE: Individuals born in Nigeria are not eligible for DV-2018.
Hong Kong Special Admin. Region*
United Arab Emirates
*Natives of the following Asian countries do not qualify for this year's Lottery Program: Bangladesh, China (mainland-born), India, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam. The Hong Kong S.A.R., Taiwan, and Macau S.A.R. do qualify.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
*Including components and areas overseas.
**Great Britain (United Kingdom); including: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena and Turks and Caicos Islands does not qualify. Northern Ireland does qualify.
In North America, Canadian and Mexican natives do not qualify for this year's Lottery Program.
Micronesia, Federated States of Nauru
Papua New Guinea
*Including components and dependent areas overseas.
Antigua and Barbuda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Natives of the following countries do not qualify for this year's Lottery Program: Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and Peru.
©2018 Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd. All rights reserved. This publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended solely for informational purposes and you should not act or rely upon information contained herein without consulting a lawyer for advice. This publication may constitute Advertising Material.