Legal Updates & Alerts

Diversity Visa Lottery 2019 Open October 3 to November 7

September 22, 2017
By Turid Owren, Alan Perkins, and Melany Savitt

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced registration dates for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program 2019 (DV Lottery). Online registration for the DV Lottery opens Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and ends Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5). 

Background on the program
The DV Lottery allows individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States to apply through a lottery process for a diversity immigrant visa (to ultimately become a permanent resident of the United States, also known as a "green card holder"). Those selected in the lottery process must meet certain eligibility requirements.
For FY2019, 50,000 immigrant visas (green cards) will be available. There is no cost to register for the DV Lottery.

Who can apply
This year, natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply: BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, EL SALVADOR, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, NIGERIA, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM. Note that, persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan ARE eligible to apply. 
Individuals pursuing employment-based or family-based permanent residence in the United States may also register for the DV Lottery.

Applicant requirements
• Born in eligible country. See list of countries whose natives qualify at page 16 of the DV Lottery Instructions.

• High school education or equivalent, OR 2 years of qualifying work experience. See detailed requirements here.

• Photographs must be taken no more than six months before the date of the lottery entry package; wearing eyeglasses in the photograph is prohibited. Photo specifications are at page 6 of the DV Lottery Instructions.

How to apply
All entries must be submitted through the DOS online system at (available starting October 3, 2017, at noon EDT). You will need an updated internet browser for application submissions. Incomplete, late, or paper submissions will NOT be accepted. Only one entry may be submitted per person. Spouses may submit separate entries (note that if one spouse is selected, the other is entitled to derivative status regardless of country of birth).

Post application/registration
DOS will randomly select individuals by computer. Beginning May 1, 2018, applicants will be able to check the status of their applications at (each applicant receives a unique confirmation number at the time of registration).
Selection in the lottery does not mean that an individual will become a permanent resident. An individual must meet all qualifications for permanent residence, and a visa number must ultimately be available to the applicant. More individuals are selected in the lottery than there are available visas. As such, those selected in the DV Lottery are eligible to submit applications for permanent residence if and when a visa number for the individual becomes available beginning October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.

Detailed instructions from DOS are available here.

Future of the DV Lottery
The future of the DV Lottery is in question. Two bills introduced this year propose eliminating the DV Lottery: 1) The RAISE Act; and 2) The Immigration in the National Interest Act.
This client alert is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this update, or for more information about this topic, please contact any of the attorneys in our Business Immigration Practice Group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.