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How Does the Green Card Lottery Work?

Overview of the DV Lottery process.

  1. An applicant prepares an electronic DV Lottery application form with personal information such as name, birth date, and birth place, family details, education level, marital status, and passport data.
  2. Program entries are submitted during a brief window period lasting approximately 1 month every year. The exact dates of this window period vary from year to year and are usually announced in late September. Entries that do not satisfy the requirements or are not prepared correctly are disqualified and not included in the program.
  3. The US State Department selects approximately 100,000 names as winners, who must then complete a more extensive visa application. The first 55,000 people among these winners who submit the additional visa application and are confirmed eligible to receive visas are asked to have a brief interview at the nearest US embassy or consulate before their visas are issued. (Additional family members listed on the successful applicants' entry forms will also receive visas.)  Visa applicants residing in the United States may be able to receive their visas (adjust their status) without leaving the United States.
  4. Successful applicants can then immigrate to the United States with their permanent resident cards ("green cards").

More extensive information about how the Green Card Lottery works is available.