Diversity immigrant visa program: a guide for 2024


The diversity immigrant visa program, or DV program, is an annual lottery that grants permanent resident status to 50,000 people from all over the world who have high levels of education or work experience in the U.S., and who have relatively strong English language ability. There are three rounds of this lottery each year, and the upcoming round will occur in January 2020. In this guide, we’ll help you find out if you are eligible for the DV program, and provide tips on how to apply for it successfully.

Diversity immigrant visa program: a guide for 2024

A Brief History of the Visa

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program was established by the 1990 Immigration Act to provide opportunities to immigrants from countries that have traditionally been underrepresented in the US. The visas are distributed proportionally among six regions, with a certain number allocated for each country. (For example, if the total number of available visas is 10,000, then 1,000 are allocated to North America and 900 are allocated to Africa). Applications open up once every fiscal year.

The process begins with an applicant submitting an online registration form and paying the $330 registration fee; they must also submit their passport information, two passport-style photos and proof of legal status in their country of residence.

 Around mid-May of each year, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announces whether there are more qualified applicants than available visas. If that's true, no one is selected. If not, at random, USCIS announces a computer-generated list of winners, who have only 30 days to register and pay an additional $900 fee per person in order to receive their visa. Finally, on October 1 each year, visas are awarded to those who applied during that registration period — regardless of when they arrived in the United States.

How to Apply in 7 Easy Steps

How to Apply in 7 Easy Steps

1) Check your eligibility. There are only 50,000 visas available, so make sure you meet the requirements before applying.

2) Gather required documents. The list of documents needed will depend on whether you are applying from inside or outside the United States; however, all applicants must present proof of education and employment history and evidence of family ties to their country of citizenship. 3) Complete the online application form. 4) Submit your application package. 5) Pay the fee - this is currently $420 (USD). 6) Wait until October 28th, 2020 to see if you were selected in the lottery! 7) If you weren't selected in the lottery, apply again next year!

 The diversity lottery is one of two visa programs that allow individuals to immigrate to the U.S. from countries with lower rates of immigration. Both are managed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but applicants must first register with either the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or refugee/asylee relative petition process. The application period for both programs runs annually from October 1st to December 7th, and winners are selected via a computerized lottery held in May of each year, which takes into account all registrants from prior years back until 2007. Winners can expect their visas to be issued sometime around October 2021, at which point they must follow up with USCIS on how they should proceed (in most cases, adjusting status within 90 days).

The Application Process

The Application Process

The process begins with the filing of an initial application, which is required to be filed electronically. The application is made available on this page and can be completed online. After submitting the application, applicants will have to provide proof of their eligibility in one of four ways: 

-A copy of their birth certificate or passport; -A copy of the applicant's naturalization certificate or U.S. citizenship and naturalization papers; -Evidence that they are members in good standing with a recognized tribe; or -Documentation that they are lawfully admitted for permanent residence or hold valid employment authorization in the United States.

 -Applicants may apply by country of birth, or they may apply by country of chargeability. If applicants choose to apply by country of chargeability, they will be asked to select one or more countries from a list that best describes their connection to that country. A total of five countries are available under both tracks (with some having limited sub-tracks), and applicants must have at least a fourth-great grandparent who was born in any of those countries. The list of available countries is revised every year, but there is no guarantee that an applicant’s chosen country will be on it.

First Come, First Serve

First Come, First Serve

This year, the State Department is accepting diversity immigrant visas in the first come, first served order. The first applicant that applies in the 2020 fiscal year and meets all the requirements will receive the diversity visa. 

This means that if you are not from one of the six countries eligible for diversity visas (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China (mainland born), Congo (Kinshasa), El Salvador or Ethiopia) then you may want to apply now. 

The 2020 fiscal year ends on September 30th, so if you are interested in applying it is important to apply by September 30th!

 The only way to receive a diversity visa is to apply in person at an embassy. You cannot apply online, or by mail or fax.

 This year, there are 40,000 diversity visas available. After September 30th, only 5,000 more visas will be available.

Checking Your Status Online

Checking Your Status Online

The Dept of State provides instructions on how to check your status on the diversity visa at this website. The steps are as follows: 

1) go to the site 2) click check status 3) enter application number 4) click submit. If you were selected in the lottery, you will be told that there is no information available yet. If you were not selected, your application will appear and it will say whether or not you have been found ineligible.

 Note that if you have been selected, you will not be able to check your status until 60 days before the period begins in which diversity visas may be issued. This means you can’t check your status if you applied for any of these dates: 

The Checklist - Second Paragraph: To make sure that everything is in order before your interview, it’s a good idea to double-check that you have gathered all of your documents and filled out all of your forms accurately and completely. Before making any payments, make sure you have done research on whether or not they are necessary. In addition, always keep copies of every document submitted to USCIS.

Case Number And Date Received

The U.S. Department of State has begun accepting applications for the inaugural Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2024) from November 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. Applicants are asked to apply in one of two ways: either by mail or electronically via the US Department of State's website. The applicant must also provide an email address and phone number where they can be reached should they be selected as a winner in the lottery.

 The U.S. Department of State will begin reviewing applications from November 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. The department may approve as many as 50,000 applications during that time period, according to instructions on their website.

 The Department of State will then send an email to those whose applications were chosen. This notification contains important information including dates for in-person interviews that winners will be required to attend at US Embassies and Consulates abroad, as well as other general information about their Diversity Visa status. Interviews are scheduled based on a first come, first served basis. During interviews, individuals with diverse backgrounds (those eligible under diversity categories) must demonstrate through extensive documentation that they meet eligibility requirements listed below. Applicants from countries with over 50,000 annual entries will have their case number frozen if it is submitted after July 15th and before August 1st each year until October 1st of that same year. On October 1st, those frozen case numbers can be submitted again.

If My Case Is Approved, When Can I Book My Flight?

If you are approved for the diversity immigrant visa program, you will be notified by mail. Once you receive notification from the U.S. Department of State that your case has been approved, and you have paid the $230 processing fee, it is not possible to book your flight until 30 days after receiving this notice letter. 

If I Am Not Selected in the Lottery, Can I Still Apply? (eight sentences) 

If you are not selected in the lottery, then it is possible to apply again during a future year’s application period if there are still visas available or if you otherwise qualify to apply as an alternative qualified applicant.

 If My Case Is Approved, When Do I Need to Book My Flight? (six sentences)

What If I Have An Immediate Family Member That Needs To Immigrate With Me?

What If I Have An Immediate Family Member That Needs To Immigrate With Me?

An immediate family member is defined as your spouse, child under the age of 21, or parent. If you have an immediate family member that needs to immigrate with you, they must apply separately for the diversity lottery and meet the eligibility requirements. If their application is selected, they will be notified about the results. The sponsor (you) will be contacted if there are any issues with their application.

 If you are petitioning an immediate family member, they may apply with you or after you. If they wait until after your application has been submitted and reviewed, they must submit their application along with evidence that shows that they meet all of the eligibility requirements. For example, they will need to provide a valid birth certificate and passport. They must also have proof that proves their relationship to you (usually marriage certificates or birth certificates). Finally, if either one of you were married prior to immigrating from another country, each of your ex-spouses needs to sign documents stating that he or she does not object to your new marriage. This process can take between six months and two years depending on how quickly USCIS responds to requests for information and evidence.

How Long Will The Visa Be Valid?

How Long Will The Visa Be Valid?

The diversity visa will be valid for 10 years with the possibility of extension. The applicant will have to apply and qualify for an extension during the first five years of their stay in the United States.

 When you receive your diversity visa, make sure you have sufficient funds to pay all application fees, travel expenses and living costs. You will also need to ensure that you can get a passport and any visas required to travel to and enter in the United States by September 30 of 2023. Remember that there is no guarantee of being selected so it is important to prepare as much as possible. This way, if you are successful in entering into one of these additional diversity programs, you will be ready immediately once your selection has been confirmed.


While the diversity immigrant visa program has been in existence since 1987, it is now more important than ever to stay informed and prepared. This is because the cap on visas will be reduced from 55,000 to 40,000. A new point system has also been introduced which will make it more difficult to qualify. For example, applicants will no longer be able to count their work experience in the United States towards their score. The diversity immigration visa program offers a chance at U.S. citizenship that would not otherwise have been possible.

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