The Department of State has opened up online registration for the 2021 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, more commonly known as the “green card lottery.” The electronic entry/registration window is open between noon (EDT) on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 and noon (EST) on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Do not wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, as heavy demand may result in website delays.

Eligibility to enter the lottery is based primarily on country of birth. People born in the following countries – which are deemed to be already well represented in the U.S. – are not eligible to enter: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible to enter. Even if an individual is born in one of the excluded countries, one may still be eligible to enter based on one’s spouse’s country of birth. In some circumstances, one can also enter based on a parents’ country of birth. In addition, there are minimum education/work experience requirements in order to register.

To enter the lottery, go to Entering the lottery is free, but be very careful to read all the specific requirements, directions and guidelines — each year thousands of applicants are disqualified for failing to follow the correct registration procedures. Individuals with more than one entry will be disqualified. For detailed instructions, visit the Department of State website. New this year, applicants must enter the their passport number, country of issuance, and expiration date. There are a few narrow exceptions.

Beginning May 5, 2020 applicants will be able to check the status of their entry by returning to Once there, click Entrant Status Check and enter your unique confirmation number and personal information to see if you have been selected. The government will not send winners a direct, separate notification. Checking your status online is the only way to determine if you have been selected. From there, you will be given further instructions on how to proceed with your application.

Importantly, “winning” the lottery does not guarantee a green card. If successful, all winners must then wait for their allotted number to become available and then submit by the deadline a full green card application, including evidence of their background, qualifications and eligibility. We therefore strongly recommend that winners retain legal counsel to help navigate the complex process to apply for a green card.

Good luck to all who dare to take a shot at the American dream!