Registration for the fiscal year 2021 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program begins Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The program provides 50,000 immigrant visas (green cards) to people from countries with historically low levels of immigration to the United States. Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements and are selected through a computerized lottery.

Key points:

  • Registration to participate in the lottery begins Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 at noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and ends Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 at noon Eastern Standard Time (EST). No late entries or paper entries will be accepted, and individuals with more than one entry will be disqualified.
  • Applicants must apply online by submitting the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form that will be available at the E-DV website Paper applications are not accepted.
  • The State Department urges applicants not to wait until the final week to register because heavy demand may cause website delays.
  • Lottery winners will be selected at random. Registrants will be given a confirmation number they may use to check whether they have been selected starting May 5, 2020 on the E-DV website.

Background: In order to qualify, registrants must have been born in an eligible country and meet educational or work requirements. Nationals of the following countries will be ineligible to apply for DV-2021: 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.

A new requirement for the 2021 diversity immigrant visa program is that the principal registrant (not family members) must have a passport and enter a passport number. Exempted are nationals of communist-controlled countries who are unable to obtain a passport, stateless individuals and those who have received a waiver from the U.S. government. A lawsuit filed in federal court on Sept. 24 seeks to block the passport requirement from taking effect. A ruling is forthcoming.

Registrants must also have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or have worked two of the previous five years in an occupation that requires a minimum of two years of training or experience.

BAL Analysis: Those interested in entering the lottery should review the State Department’s Diversity Visa Instructions page and are reminded not to wait until the last week of the application period to submit their entry forms. Registration is free and registrants should be aware of fraud warnings and scams that target those attempting to register for the program.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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