A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Diversity Visa Program ("Visa Lottery") 2021

Want a U.S. green card?  Maybe the visa lottery is the answer.  The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program 2021 is a visa lottery program created by U.S. Congress. It is also known as the Green Card Lottery. It is an annual program which opens to all individuals worldwide with approximately 55,000 visas available. For the fiscal year 2021, applicants must submit applications online between 10/2/2019 and 11/5/2019. 

Where to apply and what are the costs?

The lottery is free of charge! It is an official government immigration program and the U.S. Department of State supervises the program. The department has set up an official website where all applications have to be submitted. Official Application Website of the U.S. Government: www.dvlottery.state.gov.


For DV-2021, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because these there were more than 50,000 natives immigrated to the United States from these countries in the previous five years:

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.

Despite the fact that people born in mainland China are not eligible for DV-2021, those who born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible to apply.

If one was not born in an eligible country, there are two other ways the person may have a chance to be a qualified applicant:

(1) If the person's spouse was born in an eligible country, then the person can claim the spouse's country of birth as his/her birth country, and apply visa lottery based on the spouse's native country.  

(2) As long as neither of the applicant's parents was born in ineligible countries, and they were not residents of the ineligible country at the time when the applicant was born, the applicant would be able to apply for DV-2021 by claiming one of his/her parents' country of birth. For example, if an applicant was born in China mainland, but her parents were born in Taiwan and they were not residents in China mainland at the time of applicant's birth, then the applicant is eligible to apply.

Education and Work Experience Requirement

An applicant must either have a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.

When and how to submit an entry

Entries for the DV-2021 program must be submitted electronically. Applicants may access the electronic DV Entry Form (E-DV) at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted. DV-2021 registration opens from 12:00pm, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 to 12:00pm, Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

New for DV-2021

Principal entrants are required to provide the passport number, country of issuance, and expiration date for their valid passport in their applications. This requirement does not apply to dependents. Also, it does not apply to principal entrants who are stateless, obtained an individual waiver from the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State, or a national of a Communist-controlled country and unable to get a passport from the home country.

Selection process

Lucky winners will be randomly selected by a computer system.  There is no way to improve the odds of getting selected.  As stated before, all eligible members within a family may apply individually, thus increasing the chance of winning.

How to find out the results

Beginning May 5, 2020, applicants will be able to check the status of their DV-2021 entries online.  Visit www.dvlottery.state.gov, click on Entrant Status Check, and enter the unique confirmation number and personal information. Entrant Status Check will be the only way that applicants may check the status of their applications.  It will also provide instructions to the winners of the visa lottery how to proceed with the application process, and also notify them of their appointments for their immigrant visa interview.


The DV program has very strict technical requirements for submission. Entries not following the official instructions and requirements will be rejected and disqualified. Furthermore, DHS is technologically capable of identifying fraudulent entries, illegal entries or multiple entries. Also, do not wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. When in doubt, don't hesitate to seek advice from a qualified immigration attorney.

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