Immigration Alert: FY2019 Diversity Visa Lottery

What is the Diversity Visa Lottery?
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of State, permits up to 50,000 diversity immigrant visas to be granted for fiscal year 2019 to persons from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. Foreign nationals are selected for eligibility to file an application for permanent residence under this program on the basis of a lottery.

When can I apply?
The U.S. Department of State will accept applications online for the FY2019 diversity lottery between 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4) on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, and 12 noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5) on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. Applicants are encouraged to apply in the early part of the application period. Note that due to a technical issue, the Department of State has closed the previous diversity lottery entry period that began on October 3, 2017. Entries submitted during the previous October 3, 2017 and October 10, 2017 entry period are not valid and will not be accepted or considered for selection in the FY2019 lottery. Individuals who submitted an application during the previous October 3-10 entry period must submit a new entry in order to be considered for selection in the FY2019 diversity lottery.

Who is eligible?
In order to enter the diversity visa lottery, an individual must be a national of an eligible country and must meet minimum education/work requirements.

No visas may be awarded to foreign nationals of countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the period of the last five years. For the 2019 diversity lottery, nationals 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. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible. There were no changes in eligibility this year.

Nationality is defined by the location of a person’s birth. However, if a foreign national is ineligible to apply based on their country of birth, there are two alternate ways to qualify. First, a foreign national whose spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible to apply may apply provided the spouse is eligible. Second, a foreign national who was born in a country whose natives are ineligible to apply is eligible to apply if neither of his/her parents were born in or legally resided in that country at the time of the foreign national’s birth.

In addition to meeting the nationality requirement, in order to enter the diversity lottery, a foreign national must have either a high school education or its equivalent, or at least two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years training or experience to perform.

How do I Apply?
Diversity lottery submissions are only accepted electronically. The electronic applications are submitted via the U.S. Department of State’s Diversity Visa Lottery website. Applicants may only submit ONE lottery entry; individuals who attempt to submit more than one application will be disqualified from participating in the lottery. Note: entries submitted during October 3-10 are not valid and have been excluded from the system; therefore, they will not count as a duplicate entry.

A diversity application must be accompanied by digital photographs of the applicant, the applicant’s spouse (if applicable), and the applicant’s dependent children (if applicable) taken in accordance with specific requirements set forth in detail on the U.S. Department of State’s website. Note: each spouse may submit his/her own application if he/she otherwise qualifies. In completing the electronic entry form, the following data will be required: full name, date of birth, gender, city of birth, country of birth, country of eligibility for the program, photograph(s), mailing address, current country of residence, phone number (optional), email address, educational level, marital status, number of children, and information about spouse and children.

How does the Selection Process Work?
Winners of the lottery will be selected in a random computerized process. After entering the lottery, it is critical to safeguard the confirmation page as it contains information that is needed to check the status of the application. Starting May 15, 2018 (through at least September 30, 2019), applicants can check the status of their application using their confirmation number through the Entry Status Check section of the E-DV website. Lottery winners will not receive correspondence in the mail to confirm the selection of their application; the status of the application can only be checked through the E-DV website.

Selection in the lottery does not automatically confer lawful permanent resident status. In order to become a permanent resident of the U.S., a selected lottery winner’s (and their dependents) application(s) for permanent residence must be filed and approved by September 30, 2019. The permanent residence application may be filed either via adjustment of status (if the foreign national is in the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status) or via consular processing.

Finally, please note that more lottery “winners” are selected than there are immigrant visas available because some winners will not be eligible to become U.S. permanent residents of the U.S. Accordingly, some individuals who are selected to apply for diversity visas may ultimately be unable to become U.S. permanent residents if the available diversity immigrant visas are assigned prior to their permanent residence application being adjudicated.

Where Can I Get More Information?
Instructions regarding how to apply for the 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery may be obtained from the U.S. Department of State’s PDF instructions and U.S. Department of State’s website.

For more information or specific legal advice, please contact your designated Gibney representative or email