Green Card Lottery Eligibility Criteria

You are eligible to participate in the green card lottery program if you fulfill these eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a native of an eligible country.
  • You must meet the education and/or training requirements.

Please continue reading for more details

Criteria One: Native Of an Eligible Country

You are eligible to apply for the green card lottery program if you are a native of an eligible country. The nativity is usually determined by the person’s place of birth. Therefore, you should be born in a country marked as eligible by the U.S. Department of State in the year you submit your diversity visa application.

Normally people from all over the world can apply for the lottery EXCEPT those who are citizens of countries listed as “NON ELIGIBLE” by the State Department (You can see the list of ineligible countries later in this section).

The selection process for the entrants in the diversity visa program is based on a computer generated system and is purely a random process. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, namely Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, Oceania and North America.

Within each specified geographical region, no single country may receive more than seven percent of the overall number of available visas in one fiscal year.



Natives or nationals of countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the last five years are marked as INELIGIBLE for the diversity visa lottery. Every year, the US advertises the updated list of ineligible countries for that year’s lottery.

Countries ineligible for Diversity Visa 2016* (DV 2016) included:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea,
United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

NOTE: *The 2016 in the Diversity Visa program name marks the year in which successful applicants will be able to permanently move to the US.

NOTE: **Persons born in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are eligible.

Exceptions to Eligibility Criteria – Determine If You Are Still Eligible

If you don’t fulfill the first criteria, you can still apply for the lottery if

  • Your parents were born in a country that is eligible and were not residents of an ineligible country at the time of your birth. You can still continue to qualify if only one of your parents was born in an eligible country.
  • If your spouse was born in an eligible country, you can apply for the lottery program as an “eligible applicant”. You can claim your spouse’s country of birth.

Cross-Charging – Figure Your Odds of Applying For a Diversity Visa Lottery

As an applicant, you can enhance your chances of success by “cross-charging” your nationality.

When the term native is mentioned, it means you are either born in that country or you are entitled (or allowed) to be charged, i.e. take its nationality under the provisions of Section 202(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

To become an eligible diversity visa applicant, you can “charge” yourself to the country of birth of your spouse or your parent.

If you qualify on the basis of your parents or your spouse’s country of birth, you should clearly mention your country of birth in the Place of Birth and your parents or your spouse’s country of birth in the field marked as “Native Country”.

You can also consider “Cross-charging” to overcome visa limitations per country in a particular region. As each eligible country is limited to only 7 percent of the total allocated number of Diversity Visas which are about 3,500 visas in a total of 50,000, by cross-charging from a crowded country to a country with lesser number of applicants, you can increase your chances of getting a visa.

Criteria Two:
Education and/or Training Requirements

To enter the green card lottery program, you must meet the education and/or training requirement set by the Department of State.

You should complete your high school education, or its equivalent which in the U.S, is the successful completion of “12 years” of elementary and secondary education.


If your high school education is not complete, you can still apply for the program if you have a related two years experience (within the last five years) in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Note: If you are a native of an eligible country and have completed your high school education, you automatically qualify for the lottery process, i.e. there are no training requirements.

Apply for a US residence visa.