Your diversity visa questions answered

The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program provides a limited number of visas each year for immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

The diversity visas are distributed among six geographic regions, and no single country may receive more than 7 percent of the available visas in any one year.

The new registration period for DV-2019 opens for electronic entries at noon, Eastern Daylight Time, Wednesday, October 18, 2017, and closes at noon, Eastern Standard Time, Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

Why isn’t my country eligible for this year’s DV Program?

Countries that have had more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the last five years are ineligible for the DV Lottery. Since this calculation is made annually, the list of countries can change from year to year.

The following countries are not eligible for the 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery: 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.

Michael S. Williamson/Washington Post/Getty Images
The Wangota family came to the U.S. 13 years ago from Uganda through the Diversity Visa program. (© Michael S. Williamson/Washington Post/Getty Images)

What does a diversity visa entitle me to? Will the U.S. government help me find work?

A diversity visa allows you to live and work in the United States. The U.S. government will not pay for your airfare, find you a place to live or find you work. As part of your visa application, you will have to prove that you are unlikely to become dependent on the U.S. government for your living expenses. There is no specific amount of money you must prove you have. The consular officer will consider the totality of your circumstances during your visa interview.

Can I use the same photo I submitted in last year’s entry?

No. Entries that include the same photo from last year’s application will be disqualified. You must use a photograph taken within the last six months.

Can I apply for a diversity visa if I already hold a U.S. visa?

Yes, you can apply even if you already hold a U.S. visa.

How much does it cost to enroll in the Diversity Visa Program?

There is no cost to enroll in the program. If selected, you will pay visa fees at the embassy or consulate when you have your interview. Beware of scams related to payment of diversity visa fees!

Why do you run out of diversity visas for people who were selected for the program?

There are 50,000 DVs available in 2017. More than 50,000 people are selected in the program because some people selected don’t qualify for the visa or don’t pursue the visa, and we want to make sure all 50,000 visas are issued. Only the first 50,000 qualified applicants and derivative family members will be issued visas. After those visas are issued, the program will end. If you wish to receive your visa, you must act promptly when selected. If you miss or reschedule your appointment or come without the required documentation, you risk a visa being unavailable.