The Immigration & Nationality Act of 1990 provides a yearly maximum allotment of 55,000 visas for the annual diversity immigrant visa lottery, however Congress has authorized 5,000 of these visas to be allocated for use under the NACARA program. There will only be 50,000 visas available for DV-2019.

The next visa lottery will be called DV-2020.

If eligible, those selected may be able to immigrate to the United States during fiscal year 2019 and obtain a Green Card. The 2019 fiscal year starts October 1st 2019 and ends September 30th 2020. A new lottery is conducted every fiscal year.

Those selected in the visa lottery must meet all other eligibility requirements under U.S. law to receive an immigrant visa. Also, being selected in the visa lottery does not automatically guarantee that you will receive a visa (or will be able to adjust status from within the United States) because there will be more registered lottery winners than the number of immigrant visas available. The government assumes that many of the registered applicants will not pursue their cases to visa issuance or will be found ineligible to receive the diversity visa (or to adjust status to permanent resident from within the United States) for various reasons. Many persons selected in the lottery will be unable to obtain permanent resident status due to unlawful presence issues, not meeting the education or work experience requirement, or for other reasons. Also, some winners have spouses and children that will use some of the available visas. Those selected in the lottery and who are indeed eligible to receive permanent resident status or diversity visas need to be ready to act on their adjustment of status applications or their immigrant visa applications quickly once they become eligible to apply.

The U.S. government will notify only persons selected in the lottery. Persons selected in the DV-2019 lottery will be notified by mail between April and June at the address listed on their lottery entry. Winners will also be sent instructions about how to apply for an immigrant diversity visa, including information on the fee for immigrant visas and a separate visa lottery surcharge. Successful entrants must complete the immigrant visa application process and meet all eligibility requirements under U.S. law to be issued a visa. The U.S. government will NOT notify persons not selected. The U.S. Government, Embassies and Consulates will not be able to provide a list of names of those selected in the lottery.

Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of persons selected in the lottery may also apply for visas to accompany the principal applicant. DV-2019 visas will be issued between October 1st, 2018 and September 30th, 2018. As I mentioned above, being selected as a winner in the DV-2019 lottery does not automatically guarantee being issued a visa even if the applicant is qualified, because the number of entries selected and registered is greater than the number of immigrant visas available. Those selected will therefore need to complete and file their immigrant visa applications as soon as they are eligible to do so in order to try to obtain their diversity immigrant visa before the visas are all issued or before the DV-2019 program ends. Once a person obtains a diversity visa, they will have up to six months (from the date of issuance) to travel to and enter the United States. For those who will be adjusting status to permanent resident from within the United States, they must "obtain" (not just file for) their permanent resident status before the DV-2019 program ends (which can sometimes be problematic due to the slow processing times at the various INS District and Suboffices). Once all of the diversity visas have been issued or on September 30th 2018, whichever occurs first, the DV program for fiscal year 2019 will end.

To qualify as a Diversity Immigrant, each "principal" applicant must have been born in a designated "low-admission" country (or qualify through their spouse or parent, see details below) and, (A) have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or (B) have worked at least two years (within five years from the date of the entry) in an occupation that requires two years of training or experience. If selected in the lottery, the principal applicant will then have to prove he or she has a high school education or its equivalent, or prove he or she has two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience within the past five years.

What do I mean by "principal" applicant?

Example: If a husband and wife both submit lottery entries and the husbands entry is selected, he will be the principal applicant when he and his wife (and children) apply for their diversity visas at a U.S. Consulate, or when they apply for adjustment of status from within the United States. If the husband does not meet the education or work requirement, neither he nor his wife (or children) will be able to obtain diversity visas or adjust status. Likewise, if instead the wifes entry is selected, she will be the principal applicant and she would have to meet the education or work requirement for her and her husband (and children) to process their diversity visas or adjust status.

The State Departments rules define a high school education or its equivalent to mean successful completion of a twelve-year course of study in the U.S. or its equivalent. When determining educational credentials, the Consulates have been supplied with a copy of "foreign educational credentials required for consideration of admission to universities and colleges in the United States". This has been provided to give the Consulates guidance when determining if someone meets the educational standard.

The State Department uses the U.S. Department of Labors O*Net Online database to determine if an applicant meets the work requirement.

Generally, your country of birth determines whether you are eligible to participate in the lottery, however if you were born in an ineligible country see the sky/cloud icons below for alternative ways to qualify for the lottery. Your country of current citizenship and residency is generally irrelevant for lottery purposes! For example, a person born in a qualifying country such as Australia who is currently residing in an ineligible country such as Canada is eligible to participate in the lottery, however if a person born in an ineligible country like Canada later becomes a citizen of an eligible country such as Australia, that person is not eligible to participate in the lottery unless they qualify through the spousal or parental exceptions discussed below. Only one lottery entry per person per year is allowed by law.

Persons born in the following countries are not eligible to participate in the DV-2019 visa lottery: Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom areas not eligible include Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena & Turks and Caicos Islands), and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR , Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible. See the exceptions below (cloud icons).

Persons born in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (S.A.R.) and Macau Special Administrative Region (S.A.R.) are eligible to apply for the DV-2019 lottery.

As you will read below, if a person has a certain amount of "unlawful presence" in the United States they will not be allowed to process their greencard from within the United States. If they depart the United States to process at a U.S. Consulate they will often find that not only will they not receive a diversity immigrant visa, but also they are now subject to a 3 or 10-year ban from the United States!

NOTE: Applicants for DV-2019 that are selected in the lottery must meet all eligibility requirements under U.S. law in order to be issued a diversity visa or to be able to adjust status to permanent resident from within the United States. If you are not sure if you are eligible to participate in the next lottery or if you are not sure if you will be eligible to adjust status or obtain a Diversity Visa if you are selected in the lottery, you may schedule an immigration consultation to discuss your familys situation before sending your lottery data input forms to my office. Please read my consultation service page (linked above in this paragraph) before calling, faxing or e-mailing with your questions about your DV-2019 eligibility.

CAUTION: AN INDIVIDUAL SHOULD NOT SUBMIT MULTIPLE LOTTERY ENTRIES. THIS WILL AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFY ALL OF YOUR ENTRIES FROM THE DV-2019 LOTTERY!
THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE LOOKS FOR MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS SO KEEP IN MIND THAT MERELY SUBMITTING TWO ENTRIES WILL AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFY YOU FROM THE LOTTERY!