The annual Diversity Lottery (i.e. green card lottery) opened this week. The registration period is from October 2, 2019 until noon Eastern Standard Time on November 5, 2019. Each year the U.S. State Department runs the program to encourage individuals from countries with historically low numbers of immigrants to the United States to apply for green cards.

Based upon higher numbers of immigrants in past years, for this year, persons born in the following countries may not participate in the Diversity Lottery: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

The process involves three steps: 1. Submit an online application during the October – November registration period, 2. Check your application status May 5, 2020 to see if the State Department selected your application, and 3. Watch the monthly cutoff dates (in the Visa Bulletin, at beginning in October 2021 to determine when you can submit your actual application for a green card.

There are several things to keep in mind. The first step of submitting an application is free. Be sure to follow the instructions and submit your application (and later check your application’s status) through the U.S. State Department’s official DV Lottery website,, and not through a private service (e.g. with a .com or .org website) that would charge you a fee to do it. Next, to qualify, you must have at least a high school education (12 years total) or two years of experience within the last five years in a job that requires at least two years of training or experience. Finally, be sure to read and follow all instructions, which you can download from the website. Good luck!