The Department of State annually administers the statutorily-mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For Fiscal Year 2020, 50,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) will be available.
- Entry Instructions and guidance
Applicants must submit entries for the DV-2020 program electronically at dvlottery.state.gov between, Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
DO NOT wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, as heavy demand may result in website delays. No late entries or paper entries will be accepted.
The law allows only one entry per person during each registration period – Individuals with more than one entry will be disqualified. The Department of State uses sophisticated technology to detect multiple entries.
The Department accepts DV entries ONLY through the E-DV site, which has complete instructions. There is no fee to enter. All entrants must print and retain their online confirmation page after completing their DV entries so that they will be able to check their entry status as explained below.
Beginning May 7, 2019, DV-2020 entrants will be able to use their unique confirmation number provided at registration to check the online Entrant Status Check at www.dvlottery.state.gov to see if their entry was selected.
It is very important for entrants to keep a record of their unique confirmation number until at least September 30, 2020. The confirmation number is the only way to check whether an entry has been selected and to obtain visa application and appointment information, if selected. The unique confirmation number helps to protect DV entrants against fraud, malfeasance, and problems with the mail.
DV instructions are also are available on the Department of State’s public web page at Diversity Visa Program
- SCAM ALERT!
The only place to enter the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery is dvlottery.state.gov, entering the lottery is free. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a scam artist.
To learn more, follow the Department of State link: Fraud Warning
1. Can I still apply if I was not born in a qualifying country?
There are two circumstances in which you still might be eligible to apply. First, if your derivative spouse was born in an eligible country, you may claim chargeability to that country. As your eligibility is based on your spouse, you will only be issued an immigrant visa if your spouse is also eligible for and issued an immigrant visa. Both of you must enter the United States together using your DVs. Similarly, your minor dependent child can be “charged” to a parent’s country of birth.
Second, 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. People are not generally considered residents of a country in which they were not born or legally naturalized, if they were only visiting, studying in the country temporarily, or stationed temporarily for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government of a country other than the one in which you were born.
If you claim alternate chargeability through either of the above, you must provide an explanation on the E-DV Entry Form, in question #6.
Listing an incorrect country of eligibility or chargeability (i.e., one to which you cannot establish a valid claim) will disqualify your entry.
2. What are the requirements for education or work experience?
U.S. immigration law and regulations require that every DV entrant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or have two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience. A “high school education or equivalent” is defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States OR the successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a high school education in the United States. Only formal courses of study meet this requirement; correspondence programs or equivalency certificates (such as the General Equivalency Diploma G.E.D.) are not acceptable. You must present documentary proof of education or work experience to the consular officer at the time of the visa interview.
If you do not meet the requirements for education or work experience, your entry will be disqualified at the time of your visa interview, and no visas will be issued to you or any of your family members.
3. Is there a minimum age to apply for the E-DV Program?
There is no minimum age to apply, but the requirement of a high school education or work experience for each principal applicant at the time of application will effectively disqualify most persons who are under age 18.
4. I am in the United States. Can I enter the DV program?
Yes, an entrant may apply while in the United States or another country. An entrant may submit an entry from any location.
5. May my spouse and I each submit a separate entry?
Yes, each spouse may each submit one entry if each meets the eligibility requirements. If either spouse is selected, the other is entitled to apply as a derivative dependent.
6. What family members must I include in my DV entry?
Spouse: If you are legally married, you must list your spouse regardless of whether he/she lives with you or intends to immigrate to the United States. You must list your spouse even if you currently are separated from him/her, unless you are legally separated. Legal separation is an arrangement when a couple remain married but live apart, following a court order. If you and your spouse are legally separated, your spouse will not be able to immigrate with you through the Diversity Visa program. You will not be penalized if you choose to enter the name of a spouse from whom you are legally separated. If you are not legally separated by a court order, you must include your spouse even if you plan to be divorced before you apply for the Diversity Visa. Failure to list your eligible spouse or, listing someone who is not your spouse, is grounds for disqualification. If you are not married at the time of entry but plan on getting married in the future, do not list a spouse on your entry form as this would be grounds for disqualification. If you are divorced or your spouse is deceased, you do not have to list your former spouse.
The only exception to this requirement is if your spouse is already a U.S. citizen or U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, do not list him/her in your entry. A spouse who is already a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident will not require or be issued a DV. Therefore, if you select “married and my spouse IS a U.S. citizen or U.S. LPR” on your entry, you will not be able to include further information on your spouse.
Children: You must list ALL your living children who are unmarried and under 21 years of age at the time of your initial DV entry, whether they are your natural children, your step-children (even if you are now divorced from that child’s parent), your spouse’s children, or children you have formally adopted in accordance with the applicable laws. List all children under 21 years of age at the time of your electronic entry, even if they no longer reside with you or you do not intend for them to immigrate under the DV program. You are not required to list children who are already U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents, though you will not be penalized if you do include them.
Parents and siblings of the entrant are ineligible to receive DV visas as dependents, and you should not include them in your entry.
If you list family members on your entry, they are not required to apply for a visa or to immigrate or travel with you. However, if you fail to include an eligible dependent on your original entry or, list someone who is not your dependent, your case will be disqualified at the time of your visa interview, and no visas will be issued to you or any of your family members. This only applies to those who were family members at the time the entry was submitted, not those acquired at a later date. Your spouse, if eligible to enter, may still submit a separate entry even though he or she is listed on your entry, as long as both entries include details about all dependents in your family.
7. Must I submit my own entry, or can someone else do it for me?
We encourage you to prepare and submit your own entry, but you may have someone submit the entry for you. Regardless of whether you submit your own entry, or an attorney, friend, relative, or someone else submits it on your behalf, only one entry may be submitted in your name. You, as the entrant, are responsible for ensuring that information in the entry is correct and complete; entries that are not correct or complete may be disqualified. Entrants should keep their own confirmation number so that they are able to independently check the status of their entry using Entrant Status Check at dvlottery.state.gov. Entrants should retain access to the email account used in the E-DV submission.
8. I’m already registered for an immigrant visa in another category. Can I still apply for the DV program?
9. Can I download and save the E-DV entry form into a word processing program and finish it later?
No, you will not be able to save the form into another program for completion and submission later. The E-DV Entry Form is a web-form only. You must fill in the information and submit it while online.
10. Can I save the form online and finish it later?
No. The E-DV Entry Form is designed to be completed and submitted at one time. You will have 60 minutes starting from when you download the form to complete and submit your entry through the E-DV website. If you exceed the 60-minute limit and have not submitted your complete entry electronically, the system discards any information already entered. The system deletes any partial entries so that they are not accidentally identified as duplicates of a later, complete entry. Read the DV instructions completely before you start to complete the form online, so that you know exactly what information you will need.
11. I don’t have a scanner. Can I send photographs to someone in the United States to scan them, save them, and email them back to me so I can use them in my entry?
Yes, as long as the photograph meets the requirements in the instructions and is electronically submitted with, and at the same time as, the E-DV online entry. You must already have the scanned photograph file when you submit the entry online; it cannot be submitted separately from the online application. The entire entry (photograph and application together) can be submitted electronically from the United States or from overseas.
12. If the E-DV system rejects my entry, can I resubmit my entry?
Yes, you can resubmit your entry as long as your submission is completed by 12:00 pm (noon) Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5) on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. You will not be penalized for submitting a duplicate entry if the E-DV system rejects your initial entry. Given the unpredictable nature of the Internet, you may not receive the rejection notice immediately. You can try to submit an application as many times as is necessary until a complete application is received and the confirmation notice sent. Once you receive a confirmation notice, your entry is complete, and you should NOT submit any additional entries.
13. How soon after I submit my entry will I receive the electronic confirmation notice?
You should receive the confirmation notice immediately, including a confirmation number that you must record and keep. However, the unpredictable nature of the Internet can result in delays. You can hit the “Submit” button as many times as is necessary until a complete application is sent and you receive the confirmation notice. However, once you receive a confirmation notice, do not resubmit your information.
14. I hit the “Submit" button, but did not receive a confirmation number. If I submit another entry, will I be disqualified?
If you did not receive a confirmation number, your entry was not recorded. You must submit another entry. It will not be counted as a duplicate. Once you receive a confirmation number, do not resubmit your information.
15. How do I know if I am selected?
You must use your confirmation number to access the Entrant Status Check available on the E-DV website at dvlottery.state.gov starting May 7, 2019, through September 30, 2020. Entrant Status Check is the sole means by which the Department of State will notify you if you are selected, provide further instructions on your visa application, and notify you of your immigrant visa interview appointment date and time. In order to ensure the use of all available visas, the Department of State may use Entrant Status Check to notify additional selectees after May 7, 2019. Retain your confirmation number until September 30, 2020 in case of any updates. The only authorized Department of State website for official online entry in the Diversity Visa Program and Entrant Status Check is dvlottery.state.gov.
The Department of State will NOT contact you to tell you that you have been selected (see FAQ #24).
16. How will I know if I am not selected? Will I be notified?
The Department of State will NOT notify you directly if your entry is not selected. You must use the Entrant Status Check to learn whether you were selected. You may check the status of your DV-2019 entry through the Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website at starting May 7, 2019, until September 30, 2020. Keep your confirmation number until at least September 30, 2019. (Status information for the previous year’s DV program, DV-2019, is available online from May 15, 2018, through September 30, 2019.)
17. What if I lose my confirmation number?
You must have your confirmation number to access Entrant Status Check. A tool is now available in Entrant Status Check (ESC) on the E-DV website that will allow you to retrieve your confirmation number via the email address with which you registered by entering certain personal information to confirm your identity.
U.S. embassies and consulates and the Kentucky Consular Center are unable to check your selection status for you or provide your confirmation number to you directly (other than through the Entrant Status Check retrieval tool). The Department of State is NOT able to provide a list of those selected to continue the visa process.
18. Will I receive information from the Department of State by email or by postal mail?
The Department of State will not send you a notification letter. The U.S. government has never sent emails to notify individuals that they have been selected, and there are no plans to use email for this purpose for the DV-2020 program. If you are a selectee, you will only receive email communications regarding your visa appointment after you have responded to the notification instructions on Entrant Status Check. These emails will not contain information on the actual appointment date and time; they will simply tell you to go to the Entrant Status Check website for details. The Department of State may send emails reminding DV lottery applicants to check the ESC for their status. However, such emails will never indicate whether the lottery applicant was selected or not.
Only internet sites that end with the “.gov” domain suffix are official U.S. government websites. Many other websites (e.g., with the suffixes “.com,” “.org,” or “.net”) provide immigration and visa-related information and services. The Department of State does not endorse, recommend, or sponsor any information or material on these other websites.
You may receive emails from websites that try to trick you into sending money or providing your personal information. You may be asked to pay for forms and information about immigration procedures, all of which are available free on the Department of State website, travel.state.gov, or through U.S. embassy or consulate websites. Additionally, organizations or websites may try to steal your money by charging fees for DV-related services. If you send money to one of these non-government organizations or websites, you will likely never see it again. Also, do not send personal information to these websites, as it may be used for identity fraud/theft.
These deceptive emails may come from people pretending to be affiliated with the Kentucky Consular Center or the Department of State. Remember that the U.S. government has never sent emails to notify individuals they have been selected, and there are no plans to use email for this purpose for the DV-2020 program. The Department of State will never ask you to send money by mail or by services such as Western Union.
19. I am already in the United States. If selected, may I adjust my status with USCIS?
Yes, provided you are otherwise eligible to adjust status under the terms of Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you may apply to USCIS for adjustment of status to permanent resident. You must ensure that USCIS can complete action on your case, including processing of any overseas applications for a spouse or for children under 21 years of age, before September 30, 2020, since on that date your eligibility for the DV-2020 program expires. The Department of State will not approve any visa numbers or adjustments of status for the DV-2020 program after midnight EDT on September 30, 2020, under any circumstances.
20. If I am selected, for how long am I entitled to apply for a Diversity Visa?
If you are selected in the DV-2020 program, you are entitled to apply for visa issuance only during U.S. government fiscal year 2020, which is from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. We encourage selectees to apply for visas as early as possible, once their program rank numbers become eligible.
21. How and where do I pay DV and immigrant visa fees if I am selected?
If you are a randomly selected entrant, you will receive instructions for the DV application process through Entrant Status Check at dvlottery.state.gov. You will pay all DV and immigrant application visa fees in person only at the U.S. embassy or consulate at the time of the visa application. The consular cashier will immediately give you a U.S. government receipt for payment. Do not send money for DV fees to anyone through the mail, Western Union, or any other delivery service if you are applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
If you are selected and you are already present in the United States and plan to file for adjustment of status with USCIS, the instructions page accessible through Entrant Status Check at dvlottery.state.gov contains separate instructions on how to mail adjustment of status application fees to a U.S. bank.
22. If I apply for a DV, but don’t qualify to receive one, can I get a refund of the visa fees I paid?
No. Visa application fees cannot be refunded. You must meet all qualifications for the visa as detailed in these instructions. If a consular officer determines you do not meet requirements for the visa, or you are otherwise ineligible for the DV under U.S. law, the officer cannot issue a visa and you will forfeit all fees paid.
23. How can I report internet fraud or unsolicited emails?
Please visit the econsumer.gov website, hosted by the Federal Trade Commission in cooperation with consumer-protection agencies from 36 nations. You also may report fraud to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center. To file a complaint about unsolicited email, use the “Telemarking and Spam” complaint tool on the econsumer.gov website or visit the Department of Justice Unsolicited Commercial Email (“Spam”) webpage for additional information and contacts.
24. If I receive a visa through the DV program, will the U.S. government pay for my airfare to the United States, help me find housing and employment, and/or provide healthcare or any subsidies until I am fully settled?
No. The U.S. government will not provide any of these services to you if you receive a visa through the DV program. If you are selected to apply for a DV, you must demonstrate that you will not become a public charge in the United States before being issued a visa. This evidence may be in the form of a combination of your personal assets, an Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) submitted by a relative or friend residing in the United States, an offer of employment from an employer in the United States, or other evidence.