Green card lottery

Every year, millions of people from around the world dream of moving to the United States and becoming permanent residents. For many, the green card lottery, also known as the Diversity Visa program, represents their best chance at making that dream a reality. Since its inception in 1990, the program has provided more than a million people with the opportunity to live, work, and build a future in the United States.

But what is the green card lottery, and how does it work? In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the history, eligibility requirements, application process, and odds of winning the green card lottery. We'll also explore the pros and cons of the program and discuss how it compares to other paths to immigration.

What is the Green Card Lottery?

The U.S. Department of State's Green Card lottery, also known as the Diversity immigrant visa program, provides a permanent resident card annually to individuals from countries with lower immigration rate. The program was created as a way to increase the population of immigrants in the US and provide opportunities to people from underrepresented countries.

To be eligible for the green card lottery, applicants must meet certain education and work experience requirements and be from a country that is eligible for the program. Each year, the State Department publishes a list of eligible countries, which can vary depending on the number of immigrants from each country who have received visas in the previous five years.

Green Card Lottery Process

The green card lottery application process takes place entirely online, and the application period is typically open for a few weeks each year. To apply, individuals partner up with VisaHQ and complete the online application form. The form includes questions about the applicant's personal information, such as their name, place of birth, date of birth, as well as their education and work experience.

After the application period closes, the State Department conducts a random selection process to determine which applicants will be invited to apply for a green card. The selection process is completely random, and the chances of being selected depend on the number of applicants from each country.

Winning the Lottery:

Winning the green card lottery is a dream come true for many people, but it's important to understand that it is a very competitive process. Each year, the State Department receives millions of applications for a limited number of visas, so the odds of winning are relatively low.

For example, in the 2020 green card lottery, the State Department received over 22 million applications for just 50,000 visas. That means the odds of winning were about 1 in 440. However, the odds can vary depending on the number of applicants and the number of visas available.

Pros and Cons of the Green Card Lottery:

Like any program, the green card lottery has both its supporters and detractors. Here are some of the pros and cons of the program:


  • Provides an opportunity for people from underrepresented countries to immigrate to the United States

  • Gives people who may not otherwise have a way to immigrate the chance to live and work in the United States

  • Helps to diversify the immigrant population in the United States


  • The application process is competitive, and the odds of winning are relatively low.

  • Some people may view the program as "random" or "unfair" because the selection process is completely random.

  • The program has been criticized for not prioritizing the skills and talents of immigrants, as other immigration programs do

Other Paths to Immigration

The diversity visa lottery is just one way to immigrate to the United States. There are several other pathways to immigration, including:

  • Sponsorship by a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

  • Employment-based visas for workers with specialized skills or job offers in the United States

  • Asylum or refugee status for individuals facing persecution or danger in their home countries

  • Investment-based visas for individuals who are willing to invest a significant amount of money in a U.S. business

Each of these pathways has its own eligibility requirements and application process, and the selection criteria can vary widely.


The green card lottery is a highly competitive program that offers a chance for people from underrepresented countries to immigrate to the United States. While the program has its supporters, it has also been the subject of controversy and debate.

Regardless of one's stance on the program, it is important to remember that the green card lottery is just one of several pathways to immigration, and that each individual's path to the United States will be unique.

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    This article was published by VisaHQ, a world leader in visa processing. Since 2003, VisaHQ has 20 offices in 6 countries and has helped countless tourist, business travellers, diplomats, workers, and students obtain their visa. With a 4.42 star rating on, VisaHQ is committed to innovation, service, security, and simplicity in the visa application process.