Following on this earlier post, the Department of State (DOS) has issued detailed instructions for the 2018 Diversity Lottery. Full details are here.
What is the Diversity Lottery?
The lottery provides permanent residence (green cards) to people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
Is it really a lottery?
Yes. In 2018, there will be 50,000 diversity visas available, but millions will apply. It is estimated that 15 million people applied for the 50,000 visas that were available in 2010!
Who can apply?
People who are born in eligible countries can apply. This includes many countries, except those with high levels of immigration to the US. It is easier to list the ineligible countries, and these are: 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.
People born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan can participate. People born in Ireland, including Northern Ireland ARE eligible. Natives of Ecuador are eligible to register for DV-2018, unlike in previous years.
Is there any way I can apply if I was not born in an eligible country?
Yes, if your spouse was born in an eligible country, you can claim that country. Also, you can be “charged” to the country of birth of either of your parents as long as neither of your parents was born in or a resident of your country of birth at the time of your birth.
Do I need any specific education or a job offer?
Applicants must show that they have the equivalent of a US high school education (i.e. 12 years of education) OR demonstrate two years of experience in a job that requires at least 2 years training/experience.
How do I apply?
Applications are made electronically during the prescribed times. It is best to apply early during the entry period, in case of website crashes or other technical problems occur.
Full instructions on the forms are in the DOS link below.
Can I send more than one application, to increase my chances?
The Department of State says that it uses sophisticated technology to identify duplicate applications. People applying more than once will be disqualified.
Do I need a lawyer to help?
No, you do not need a lawyer, notario, consultant, or any other "expert" to help. Be very wary of anyone that claims that they can guarantee you a diversity visa or expedite the process or improve your chances. This is not possible, so don't waste money asking anyone to prepare the forms for you.
When will I know if I have been successful?
The Department of State will start publish the details of successful applicants on their website in May 2017. This is the only way to find out your status. DOS will not notify applicants directly.
Is there any point in applying if the odds are so low?
The odds are low, but they are even lower if you don't apply! 50,000 people will be chosen, and you can't be one of them if you don't apply. I won the diversity visa in 1994, so it can be done!
DOS instructions (pdf)
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.