The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card Lottery) season is about to begin, and we want to give you the essential information to participate in the 2018 lottery. The application is simple and there is no fee, so if you want to live and work in the US as a resident it may be worth the effort to enter the lottery.
Please note that there are many websites claiming to be the “official green card/diversity lottery portal”, but the only valid website is that of the Department of State found here https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/diversity-visa/entry.html.
The green card lottery is a way that foreign nationals can apply to become permanent residents of the US. Obtaining a green card (US Permanent Resident Card) does not depend upon having employment or relatives in the US, however there are eligibility requirements that have to be met. A future article will discuss the eligibility criteria in greater detail.
2018 Green Card Lottery Registration Steps and Timeline
The US State Department oversees the lottery each year with a very short window to submit an application.
- All lottery entries must be submitted online
- On Tuesday October 4th, 12 noon (EDT) online registration will be opened.
- On Monday November 7th, 12 noon (EDT) online registration will close.
So, there is roughly a one-month time frame to be entered into the lottery, and then there is a seven month wait to find out the results in May. Even if you are one of those selected, you will still have to wait until 2018 to actually enter the US as permanent resident.
Selection Process, Odds of Winning and Number of Entries
The term ‘lottery’ implies that there are more applications than green cards awarded, and this is definitely the case each year. Only 50,000 green cards are awarded to foreign nationals, out of as many as 10 million applicants annually. So the odds of winning in the green card lottery are less than 1%, but there is no fee to apply and you always have a chance.
Once you have applied you will have to wait until May 3, 2017 to find out if you were selected to receive a green card. You will have to go online to the Entrant Status Check on the diversity lottery site to see the result.
Note: The state department will not send letters or emails to notify you of the result, but may send you an email to check your status on the website for new information. So what this means is that if you do receive an email that states you have been selected, it is a fraudulent notification from another party.
If you meet all of the eligibility criteria and are selected in the lottery, you will be able to enter the US in 2018. Foreign nationals living abroad will have to go to a US Embassy or Consulate to obtain a visa, and those already living or working in the US will have their immigration status by the USCIS adjusted to permanent resident. Your family members may also receive green cards if they meet the eligibility requirements.
Is the Lottery the Only Way to Obtain a Green Card?
The answer to this common question is, no. There are several ways to obtain a green card through normal channels, such as being sponsored by a US resident family member, an employer or through marriage to a US citizen. The lottery is simply a program to extend residency to those who might not otherwise qualify.
If you have questions about US immigration, green cards, H1B work visas or other non-immigrant visas please contact us.
- September 26th, 2016