The U.S. State Department posts results of its Diversity Visa green card lottery beginning in May.
The entrant status check is then open five months until Sept. 30.
In 1995, Congress authorized the diversity visa program to allow more immigrants to get green cards and enter the United States from countries that are considered under-represented in the U.S. population. For example, people from Mexico, Canada, China and the United Kingdom are ineligible for the diversity lottery because the have sent great numbers of immigrants here over the decades.
Here are some important things to remember about the green card lottery:
It’s important to understand how the dates work. For example, registration for the 2013 Diversity Visa program was held from Oct. 4, 2011 until Nov. 5, 2011. The entrant status check for DV-2013 runs between May 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013.
Entrants should check the government website to find out their lottery results. The government does not notify entrants by email. Entrants should keep their confirmation numbers because the government might select more DV “winners” beginning five months after the initial results are released. Also, keep your confirmation in case glitches or errors in the lottery are uncovered.
Beware of scams and fraudulent results. The State Department has reported an alarming increase in fraudulent emails and letters that are sent to applicants by scammers. Don’t give anyone money for lottery information or services. Deal only with the U.S. government.
Many illegal websites are designed to look like official government sites, officials say. They often feature pictures of U.S. flags and the Statue of Liberty. But don’t be misled by appearances. There is no charge to download and complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form.
No one can make promises about having special connections or procedures to give you a better chance of winning the lottery. There is no way to gain an advantage. Beware of online agents who offer shortcuts or make promises that can’t be kept.
Some legitimate companies will help you fill out and submit your entry for a fee. However, these companies do not work for the government and offer nothing that an individual applicant can’t do for himself or herself. Be sure you really need to pay for help. Most people do not.
Immigrants from well-represented countries are automatically excluded. For the 2013 lottery, the excluded countries are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories and Vietnam.
Bear in mind that “winning” the lottery is a long shot. In 2011, for example, 19 million applicants were competing for the 50,000 spots.
The most important thing you can do to reinforce your chances is to make sure your entry is complete, free of errors and meets all the eligibility requirements. Don’t let your application be disqualified because of a typographical error or stupid mistake.
There is only one way to enter the diversity lottery and that is through the U.S. State Department at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Green card lottery winners will receive a letter in the mail from the government. They will not be contacted by telephone or email.
Many people make the mistake of assuming that if their entry is selected, they automatically receive a green card. In fact, “winning” the lottery only entitles the prospective immigrant to apply for the diversity visa. The applicant then must prove eligibility and provide the government with the required documents, complete the necessary forms, pay fees and complete an immigration interview to get the green card.