US: FY 2018 Diversity Visa lottery registration opens October 4

The State Department will begin accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery starting Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at noon EDT.

Foreign nationals who wish to enter the lottery have until Monday, November 7, 2016 at noon EST to file online.

The DV lottery program makes 50,000 green card numbers available each year through random selection. FY 2018 lottery results will be announced in May 2017. Foreign nationals selected in the FY 2018 lottery can submit their green card applications starting on October 1, 2017.

Who Is Eligible to Enter the Lottery?

The DV lottery is open to natives of countries that have historically low rates of immigration to the United States. Entrants must have a high school education (or equivalent) or at least two years of qualifying work experience.

Individuals from countries with high rates of U.S. immigration are not eligible to register.

This year, those born in the following countries are ineligible: 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.

Natives of Ecuador are eligible to register for DV 2018.

Those people who cannot register because their country of birth is excluded may be able to qualify through a spouse who was born in an eligible country or, in certain circumstances, through a parent’s country of birth.

Registering for the Lottery

To register, entrants must submit an online form and a digital photo through the official DV lottery website. DV lottery applicants may include a spouse (same-sex or opposite-sex) and children in their initial entries or add a spouse and children after their initial registration.

Only one entry is permitted per person. If there are multiple registrations on behalf of one person, all of them are disqualified.

Applicants must carefully follow the State Department’s official lottery instructions. Lottery entries and digital photos that do not precisely conform to the instructions will be disqualified.

Once the application is accepted, applicants will receive a confirmation number, which can be used to check the status of their application.

How Lottery Winners Are Chosen and Notified

The State Department chooses lottery winners by random computer selection. Results will be published starting May 2, 2017 through at least September 30, 2018, on the official DV lottery entry status website.

Foreign nationals can learn whether they were selected only by visiting the official website and entering their confirmation number. The State Department does not notify entrants by letter, e-mail, fax or telephone. The official website is the only legitimate source of lottery results.

Guarding Against DV Lottery Fraud

DV lottery fraud is very common, but foreign nationals can and should take a few precautions to protect themselves.

  • Look out for deceptive lottery websites. The only authorized DV lottery website is located on the State Department website. The State Department does not use or authorize any outside individual or company to accept lottery applications or operate the lottery. But websites posing as official government sites or claiming to have State Department authorization abound. They should be avoided.
  • The State Department does not charge a fee for lottery registrations. A website, individual or company claiming there is a government fee to enter the lottery is fraudulent.
  • If lottery assistance is needed, seek competent advice. Applicants may use a lawyer or other representative to prepare a lottery registration, but they should be wary of commercial websites that claim to register applicants outside of the registration period or purport to be authorized by the State Department to accept registrations for a fee.
  • Beware of lottery e-mails, letters or faxes that claim to be from the State Department. The State Department does not send e-mails, letters or faxes about the DV lottery. The official website is the only legitimate source of information about lottery results and the only place to submit a lottery registration.
  • Be sceptical of any communication claiming a foreign national has won the DV lottery when he or she did not register or registered in a previous year.
  • Avoid sending money or personal information to questionable individuals or companies.

Learn more about DV lottery fraud by visiting the websites of the State Department and the Federal Trade Commission.