What is the Green Card Lottery and how do I enter?

Warning: Beware of Scammers!

The Green Card lottery is a lottery in which the prize is a Permanent Residence visa, more commonly known as a “Green Card”. It is run annually by the US government, and there are 55,000 visas available each year. The process is more or less as follows:

  • Entrants send in their entries during a specified time period. Each entry is assigned a number.
  • A computer randomly draws 100,000 numbers and these people are invited to apply for a US immigration visa.
  • The applications for the visas are reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis, and if the paperwork is in order and visas are still available, you will be notified of an interview date and location.
  • The interview takes place, and if all goes well (it should), you are issued an immigration visa. This is not the green card yet.
  • Upon entry in the US, you get a temporary green card in your passport. The real thing arrives by mail about 6 weeks later.

We want to stress that it doesn’t cost anything to enter the green card lottery. The first time you have to pay any money, is when you pay an administration fee at the time of the interview.

Watch out for companies who charge a fee to enter you in the lottery. They often try to create the impression that they can improve your chances of winning, citing all kinds of statistics of past successes. They may have had past successes, but they can’t improve your chances – they can only make sure you don’t get disqualified because of an incorrect entry. You don’t have to make use of their services. The entry process is simple. If you can follow instructions, you can easily do it yourself.

There are websites who will try to scam you into sending them money. Watch out for them! This has become such a big problem that the US government now even posts warnings about green card scammers on their website.

For more information, go to the US State Department DV Lottery website. You can also look at the instructions for the latest lottery to get important information and an idea of how simple the entry process really is.


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