Published October 4, 2018


Once again, millions of people from around the world will be vying for a chance to reside in the U.S. by way of an entry into the DV Visa Lottery.   For the upcoming fiscal year the DV-2020 Visa Lottery program makes available 50,000 “diversity” immigrant visas for certain qualified individuals from the vast majority of the world’s countries.

Excluded from eligibility
 are natives of 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.  There were no changes in eligibility this year from the previous fiscal year.  


These specified, excluded countries are considered to be “high admission” nations, and Congress’ aim in enacting the Visa Lottery program was to provide U.S. green card opportunities for individuals from countries with lower admission rates.  Each year, the calculus in determining which countries are “high admission” is revisited and a new assessment is made year to year.


The entry period for the current visa lottery begins at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and runs through noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5), Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  Entries will be accepted only by way of the Department of State’s visa lottery website:    There is no fee to enter the Visa Lottery.  


After registration, each applicant will be given their own unique confirmation number.  No paper entries are accepted, and each individual applying is allowed only a single entry.  Applicants entering more than once will be disqualified.  


Beginning May 7, 2019, entrants will be able to check the status of their entry (including whether they have been picked) by visiting, by entering their unique confirmation number and personal information. This is the exclusive avenue by which entrants will know the success of their entry.   No emails or hard copy notifications will be sent to chosen entrants by the Department of State, and accordingly, entrants are advised to disregard any such communications purporting to provide official government news.


Chosen lottery entrants who meet all eligibility requirements for admission will be able to enter the U.S. – along with their spouse and under 21 year old children (or undergo all processing in the U.S. via “Adjustment of Status” if they are already in the U.S. and are otherwise eligible) – during the 2020 fiscal year which runs from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.

Important details applicants need to be aware of:

1)    An applicant should only be submitting a fee after they have been officially advised of having been picked in the lottery (by way of an online status check at and pursuant to a Department of State immigrant visa processing fee request. 

2)    Applicants must be cautious of any emails they may receive advising of a “winning” visa lottery entry, as such emails are part of the protocol the Department of State has established for notifying entrants.  Further, official government emails are always sent from a mailbox with a “.gov” suffix.   Websites or email addresses with suffixes other than “.gov” such as: “.com”, “.org” or “.net”  must be approached with deep skepticism as should emails or messages that appear too good to be true or claim to provide special insider insight.

3)    All you need to know about the visa lottery, including how to enter, can be found at at  Thus, be sure to avoid websites or companies claiming to provide insider tips or access and where a service fee is being charged.

4)    Entrants are chosen via a random process.

5)    In addition to being from a qualifying country, applicants must have completed either a high school education or its equivalent, OR gained two years of experience working in a “skilled” position within the past 5 years (details on what types of positions qualify are included on the visa lottery website noted above).

6)    Applicants are allowed to enter just one time.  Qualifying individuals in the same household may submit their own individual applications.

7)     Applicants can be living in the U.S. or abroad.

8)    The spouse and children under 21 years of age of winning/chosen applicants may obtain the same green card benefits as the chosen primary applicant.  Siblings, married children and parents of winners are not eligible for derivative immigration benefits.

9)   A digital photograph of the applicant taken within the preceding 6 months must accompany the application.   The photograph must comply with specified guidelines and requirements set forth in the above DV Visa Lottery website.

For further information, including Frequently Asked Questions/Answers, about the 2020 DV Visa Lottery Program visit


PUBLISHED October 4, 2018– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2018, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois