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Who Qualified for the Visa Lottery?

Your Go-To Immigration Resource

Who Qualifies for the Diversity Visa Lottery (DV2020)? 

Each year, the Department of State administers a Diversity Visa Lottery program that “distributes diversity visas among six geographic regions, and no single country may receive more than 7 percent of the available DVs in any one year.” For the 2020 fiscal year, 50,000 Diversity Visas are available to applicants who meet strict eligibility requirements.

Anyone who qualifies for the visa lottery can submit an application for the visa lottery from noon Eastern Standard Time Wednesday, October 3 to the same time on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Eligible individuals must meet the following requirements (taken from the DV-2020 instructions):

  • Requirement 1: The individual must be born in native qualifying countries (see complete instructions below for a full list of qualifying countries). If you were not born in an eligible country, there are two other ways you might be able to qualify:
    • If your spouse was born in and eligible country, you may claim your spouse’s country of birth – provided that both you and your spouse are named on the selected entry, are found eligible and issued diversity visas, and enter the United States simultaneously. 
    • If you were born in an ineligible country in which neither of your parents was born or a legal resident at the time of your birth, then you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV-2020 program.
  • Requirement 2: Each DV applicant must meet the education/work experience requirement of the DV program by having either:
    • At least a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year
      course of formal elementary and secondary education;
    • Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two
      years of training or experience to perform.

Only those visa lottery winners who are eligible to become permanent residents should process their permanent residence applications through the visa lottery.

What makes a winner eligible to process permanent residence through the visa lottery?

  1.  Ability to adjust status in the U.S.  This usually requires the applicant to be in valid non-immigrant status but there are some exceptions.
  2. Ability to be interviewed at a U.S. Embassy abroad. Some of these applicants may need waivers before they can process their permanent residence through the visa lottery. The waiver is usually required because the visa applicant has more than 180 days in the U.S. without legal status. The waiver is based on hardship to a parent or spouse who must be either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

See below for complete DV-2020 instructions from the U.S. Department of State: