Eligibility Requirements

There are two key eligibility requirements to participate in the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program for immigration to the United States. First, an applicant for the DV-Program must have been born in a country listed by the US State Department as eligible to take part in the DV-Lottery for any given year. A second requirement to participate in the DV-Program is to have “successful completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completion of a 12-year course in the United States” OR to have “two years of work experience within the past five years in a qualifying occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform” as detailed in the O*Net database of the US Department of Labor website. In addition to these two main eligibility requirements to take part in the DV-Lottery, there are other strict criteria that applicants must meet. Some of these additional criteria are related to the proper submission of the DV-Lottery Application during the annual registration period. Other criteria are associated with the subsequent Consular Interview stage of the US immigration procedure if an applicant is selected as a DV-Lottery winner.

Failure to meet all of the eligibility and other criteria will result in an applicant for the DV-Program being disqualified, either before or after the DV-Lottery takes place. If an applicant does not meet the two key eligibility requirements for the DV-Lottery or if they submit an application to the DV-Lottery that does not meet all of the DV-Lottery requirements (for example, they submit a photo that does not meet the specified standards), they will be disqualified after the registration period and not even participate in the DV-Lottery. Disqualification can also occur after an individual wins the DV-Lottery during the Consular Interview phase of the procedure (for example, if they make a mistake in filling out or submitting their documents, fail to pass the medical or security background checks, etc.). Consequently, it is important to understand the requirements for participation in the DV-Program and to do everything correctly during each stage of the US immigration procedure.

Requirement #1: You Must Be Born in an Eligible Country

In order to participate in the DV-Lottery, you must have been born in an “eligible country” that is found on a list issued each year by the US State Department. This is because an important goal of the US Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program is to further diversify the US population by issuing a Diversity Visa (“Green Card”) to foreign nationals from “countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.” Thus, once 50,000 people born in a country with a high level of immigration to the United States have been issued a Diversity Visa during a five year period, other people born in that particular country may no longer be eligible to participate in the DV-Lottery for a certain length of time (i.e., their birth country becomes “ineligible” or “blocked”). The reason that a country becomes ineligible to participate in the DV-Lottery is to give people born in other countries with “historically low rates of immigration to the United States” a chance to also immigrate to the USA and be able to live the “American Dream.”

This list of eligible countries is usually updated by the US State Department in August or September just prior to the official registration period (normally in October) for the annual DV-Lottery to be held early the following year. Since there are approximately 200 countries in the world, it is generally easier to review the list of countries that are not eligible to participate in the Diversity Visa Program, rather than to search through the longer list of countries that are eligible to participate in the DV-Lottery (although the US State Department will usually post the lists of both ineligible and eligible countries on its website, normally in August or September before the official registration period). Therefore, it is important to distinguish which list is being reviewed (i.e., list of ineligible countries vs. list of eligible countries). Please keep in mind that this requirement for participation in the DV-Lottery relates to where you were born and not where you currently live. For example, if you were born in an eligible country, but you are now living in a different country listed as ineligible, you meet one of the two criteria for participation in the DV-Lottery since it is where you were born, not where you live that matters.

The countries that are listed by the US State Department as INELIGIBLE to participate in the DV-2022 American Green Card Lottery are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

*People who were born in Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.

It should be noted that if you were born in a country that is listed by the US State Department as ineligible to participate in the Diversity Immigrant Lottery Program, there are two ways that you still might be able to meet this particular requirement to take part in the DV-Lottery:

  1. According to the official US State Department DV-Lottery regulations, “if your derivative spouse was born in an eligible country, you may claim chargeability to that country. As your eligibility is based on your spouse, you will only be issued a DV-1 immigrant visa if your spouse is also eligible for and issued a DV-2 visa. Both of you must enter the United States together using your DVs. Similarly, your minor dependent child can be “charged” to a parent’s country of birth.” In other words, if you were not born in a country that is eligible to participate in the DV-Lottery Program, but your spouse was born in a country whose “natives” are eligible for DV-Lottery participation, you may be able to take part in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program by claiming “nativity” from your spouse, as long as you also meet the second DV-Lottery eligibility requirement related to education or work experience.
  1. The US State Department DV-Lottery regulations further declare that, “you can be ‘charged’ to the country of birth of either of your parents as long as neither of your parents was born in or a resident of your country of birth at the time of your birth. People are not generally considered residents of a country in which they were not born or legally naturalized, if they were only visiting, studying in the country temporarily, or stationed temporarily for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government from a different country other than the one in which you were born.” For example, if your mother was born in a country listed as eligible to participate in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program and she gave birth to you in a country that is ineligible to participate in the DV-Lottery while she was temporarily in the ineligible country (e.g., on vacation, during a business trip, or as an international student, etc.), you may be able to claim “nativity” from your mother. If you win the DV-Lottery, you will need to provide acceptable documentation to substantiate the “nativity” you claimed from your parent(s) on your DV-Lottery Application as part of the Consular Interview stage. Furthermore, you must also meet the second DV-Lottery eligibility requirement related to education or work experience in order to participate in the DV-Lottery.

If you claim “nativity” or “chargeability” through one of the two methods listed immediately above, you will need to explain this in Question #6 of the E-DV Entry Form to clarify that you are claiming to be a native (known as “nativity”) of an eligible country even though you were not born there since (1) your spouse or (2) one/both of your parents are natives of a country whose “natives” are eligible to participate in the DV-Lottery Program as summarized above.

Requirement #2: You Must Meet the Education or Work Criteria

A second requirement to participate in the DV-Program is to have “successful completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completion of a 12-year course in the United States” OR to have “two years of work experience within the past five years in a qualifying occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform” as detailed in the O*Net database of the US Department of Labor website. One of the main reasons for this requirement is to increase the likelihood that a foreign national who is issued a United States Permanent Resident Visa to the United States will have at least the minimum qualifications necessary to seek employment in the USA to support himself/herself (and their eligible family members who also immigrate to the United States with them through the DV-Lottery Program) and not become a burden on US taxpayers.

According to the official DV-Lottery regulations issued by the US State Department, “a ‘high school education or equivalent’ is defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States OR the successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a high school education in the United States.” The DV-Lottery rules also declare that “only formal courses of study meet this requirement” for education and that “correspondence programs or equivalency certificates (such as the General Equivalency Diploma G.E.D.) are not acceptable.” If you win the DV-Lottery, you will need to provide acceptable documentation (such as a high school diploma) to the US officials during the Consular Interview stage to prove that you meet the educational criteria.

In the event that you do not meet the educational requirements for participation in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, you might still be able to take part in the DV-Lottery if you meet the work experience criteria. The official DV-Lottery regulations state that, “If you are qualifying with work experience, you must have two years of experience in the last five years, in an occupation which, by U.S. Department of Labor definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher.” In order to check if you meet the work experience criteria to participate in the DV-Lottery, go to the O*Net Online Database and on the left side of the website click on “Find Occupations” and then on the right side of the “Find Occupations” webpage locate your occupation in the “Job Family” section (either by choosing “All Occupations” or selecting the category that your occupation would be grouped under) and then click on “Go”. Next, click on your occupation and then scroll down to the “Job Zone” section to see if your occupation qualifies because it is “designated Job Zone 4, SVP Range, 7.0 to < 8.0.” If you win the DV-Lottery, you will need to provide acceptable documentation to the US officials during the Consular Interview stage to prove that you meet the work experience criteria.

Sometimes there is a unique situation involving a married couple in which neither spouse meets both DV-Lottery requirements individually, but they may still be able to qualify to participate in the Diversity Visa Lottery Program by pooling their qualifications together. For example, if one spouse meets the education/work experience criteria, but was not born in an eligible country (and they can’t take “nativity” from a parent), but their spouse was born in an eligible country, yet, does not meet the education/work experience requirement, the spouse who meets the education/work experience requirement may be able to “borrow nativity” from their spouse who was born in an eligible country and thereby participate in the DV-Lottery. Unfortunately, a reverse scenario (i.e., in which neither spouse meets the education/work experience requirements, but one spouse was born in an eligible country) would not qualify for participation in the DV-Lottery Program according to the regulations (perhaps, because the need to support oneself and one’s family takes precedence over the desire for diversity).

Furthermore, if both spouses meet all of the eligibility criteria for participation in the DV-Lottery, they may each submit a separate application under their own name as main applicant to the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which would give them two opportunities to be randomly selected in the DV-Lottery. Each spouse would need to include the other spouse plus all eligible children in their DV-Lottery Application. This way, if one of the spouses wins the DV-Lottery, they (i.e., the main applicant) and their spouse and eligible children that they listed on their DV-Lottery Application may all have a chance to be issued a United States Permanent Resident Visa. It is important to note that individuals who are eligible to participate in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program may only submit one application under their name to the DV-Lottery during any given year. The US State Department uses sophisticated technology to prevent cheating so if someone submits more than one application to the DV-Lottery, they will be disqualified for cheating.

Finally, it is possible for an individual to meet both of the eligibility requirements for participation in the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, submit their application to the US State Department during the registration period and, yet, not actually participate in the DV-Lottery. This happens to millions of people every year who are eligible to submit applications to the DV-Lottery, but they fail to submit their application according to the strict regulations. For example, they might fill in their details accurately on their DV-Lottery Application, but they upload a photo that does not meet the standards established by the US government for the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Therefore, “eligibility” to participate in the Diversity Visa Lottery includes not only meeting the two key eligibility criteria, but also following the correct procedure for submission of the DV-Lottery Application.

To reduce the likelihood of being disqualified from participation in the DV-Lottery, or of being disqualified later as a DV-Lottery winner during the Consular Interview stage, it is very important to comply with all of the rules established for the US Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. This is why the Diversity Visa Information Center (DV-Program.com), the world’s leading Green Card service provider, informs the public about how to move to America through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. The experienced professionals at the Diversity Visa Information Center have helped hundreds of thousands of people to properly prepare and successfully submit their applications and photos to the DV-Lottery for the opportunity to receive a Green Card and to live in America long-term as US permanent residents.