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Your Green Card Lottery Checklist

Why do you need a Green Card Lottery (“DV Lottery”) checklist?

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Complete the checklist before you apply!

Before you begin your Green Card Lottery registration, it is a wise idea to take a few minutes to confirm that you qualify to participate in the program and to understand its entry requirements. Otherwise, you might be spending your time and money only to be rewarded with a disappointing result.

Why not just jump straight into it and apply immediately? Because in many cases, applicants who are not eligible to participate in the program hastily submit applications that are (mistakenly) accepted by the U.S. Government. Yes, you read that right. The application system can and does accept entries from applicants who are not qualified to participate in the program. The same is true for many applicants who provide invalid information or photos, and the application is still (erroneously) accepted. These applicants believe that because their applications were accepted by the system their entries are valid. They are wrong!

Although incorrect or invalid applications like these might be accepted during the initial registration process, this does not mean that the applications are actually valid or have any chance of reaching a successful result. If an unqualified or incorrect application that has been submitted is then selected in the lottery drawing, the subsequent verification process of the application that occurs before the green card is issued will reveal that the applicant is not eligible, or the application content is unacceptable. This leads to an immediate and unappealable denial of the visa. Even worse, this denial usually happens after the Green Card Lottery winner has paid additional and non-refundable processing fees to U.S. immigration authorities (Bureau of Consular Affairs).

You can avoid this type of disappointment and heartbreak! Carefully study the DV Lottery checklist provided here to (1) make sure you are eligible to participate, and (2) understand the requirements of the various application form components. Complete this checklist to make sure your own entry will not be disqualified!

Is your country eligible in this year’s visa lottery?

The entire purpose of the Green Card Lottery, which is formally known as the “Diversity Visa Lottery” or “DV Lottery,” is revealed by its official name. Its goal is to increase the diversity of the U.S. population by giving immigrant visas to people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States.

Each year, the U.S. Government calculates the recent total numbers of immigrants to the U.S. from all countries from around the world. Countries with low immigration rates are deemed eligible to participate in the DV Lottery for that year. You can find the list of currently allowed countries here. The list of eligible countries is updated every year to reflect changes in immigration rates and trends from all countries.

Therefore, the first and most important consideration for the Green Card Lottery is the country you will specify on the application form that permits you to participate. This is called your “country of chargeability.”

In most cases, your country of chargeability refers to your country of origin or birth. If you were born in any of the current year’s eligible countries, then you qualify to participate.

But what if you were not born in a qualified country? You might still qualify. How? If either of your parents was born in a qualified country, you can claim that qualified country as your own country of chargeability for the purpose of entering the visa lottery. Alternatively, if you are married and your spouse is from a qualified country, you can claim your spouse’s country as your own country of chargeability to participate.

If you are certain that you can claim a country of chargeability that is eligible for the current year’s visa lottery, then you pass the first check on this Green Card Lottery checklist.

Do you satisfy the education or work experience requirements?

The second visa lottery requisite to understand pertains to your level of education and work experience.

You can participate in the program if you have a minimum level of education that equals the completion of a secondary school education. This must be equivalent to achievement of a U.S. high school diploma.

With this minimum level of education, you qualify to participate, and you do not need to satisfy any additional work or job requirements.

But if you do not have this minimum level of education, you can still qualify to participate. How? If in the previous five years, you have worked at least two years in a job that requires at least two years of training or experience, then you can continue with your Green Card Lottery application. You can get a good idea of the types of occupations that qualify by visiting this page.

If you satisfy either the education or work requirement, congratulations! You pass the second check on this checklist.

Are you sure that your passport is valid?

A recently added component to the DV Lottery application is the requirement for the principal applicant to provide his/her passport information. (Only the primary applicant needs to provide passport details, spouses and children do not.)

The passport must be valid, meaning that it must not be expired at the time of application. (Ideally, the passport should not expire within one year from the date that the DV Lottery application is submitted.)

You will need to provide your full name exactly as it appears on your passport, the passport number, its expiration date, and the country that issued the document.

Most applicants easily satisfy this passport requirement. But what if you do not have a passport? If you apply early, which is highly recommended, you will have sufficient time to request and obtain a passport from your country and then add its information to your application. If you are unable to obtain a passport, however, you might be able to circumvent the passport requirement. There are a limited number of exceptions, three exactly.

You can still apply to the visa lottery without a passport if (1) you are stateless, (2) are from a Communist country and cannot obtain a passport, or (3) have a valid U.S. waiver. You will need to identify the reason for your exemption on your DV Lottery application form.

Do you have a valid passport, or, if not, you can you claim one of the three passport exemption categories? If the answer is yes, then great! You have passed the third check on this checklist.

Can you create photos that meet the technical and composition requirements?

The last requirement to consider is a little trickier because it has less to do with straightforward “black-and-white,” “yes-no” type of scrutiny. It is a much fuzzier topic.

The DV Lottery rules stipulate that you must provide one digital photo for each family member you include on your application form.

The requirements for these photos are very stringent. In addition to objective requirements that include dimensions, size, format, and resolution, there are subjective requirements that pertain to the age of the pictures, the positioning of the subject, acceptable attire, background styles, and more.

The photo requirement is the DV Lottery application component that most applicants mishandle and is the #1 cause for application failures and denials. Why? Because the U.S. State Department system that processes entries can only check the technical specifications of a photo being uploaded to the system. It cannot check the qualitative aspects of the photo.

Consider an extreme example. You can upload an image of a dog to the system. If it satisfies the technical conditions (it is the right size, file type, etc.), the system will accept it. Of course, if the application is selected in the visa lottery, as soon as an immigration officer sees the image of the dog, the visa issuance process will be stopped immediately. The same logic applies to photos where the subject is wearing unacceptable items, is not positioned correctly, is gesturing inappropriately, etc. Obviously, this set of photo requirements is more difficult to understand fully and execute accurately.

Read the complete (and exhaustive) set of guidelines for photos here.

Do you have the ability to prepare the digital photos for your visa lottery application? Are you certain that you can satisfy the technical and composition requirements? If yes, excellent! You have passed the fourth and final check on this Green Card Lottery checklist.

Are you qualified and do you understand the requirements?

So, you have gone through the checklist, and you satisfy the country and education (or work) requirements, you have a valid passport (or qualify for an exception), and you can provide suitable photographs. What do you do next? You can apply to the next Green Card Lottery! Go for it!

Keep in mind that your initial visa lottery application will not require you to provide any proof of your eligibility. All that confirmation happens only after you are selected a winner in the program. So be sure to have documents such as your birth certificate, diploma, work records, and passport ready to demonstrate as proof that you are qualified to request your U.S. visa.

Is help applying to the Green Card Lottery available?

Yes! USA Green Card can help streamline the application process for you. We offer expert assistance with your registration. How? Our team reviews your application information to confirm your eligibility, validates all components of your application, and can also help with getting your photos to conform to the numerous program specifications.

We guarantee that your registration passes all checks on the Green Card Lottery checklist for a successful application process. Most importantly, your application will not be disqualified.

Start your DV Lottery application now!

 

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