To stick with a green card or move on?Getty Images/iStockphoto

The application period for the 2016 diversity visa lottery opened on Wednesday, October 1, and will conclude at noon Monday, November 3. Those participating will have to register electronically through the official State Department website ( ) and early entry is advised. There is no charge to enter the lottery.

The lottery offers 50,000 green cards on an annual basis to applicants from all countries except the following -- 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 Vietnam. These countries are excluded from the lottery because they’ve sent at least 50,000 legal immigrants to the U.S. during the past five years.

Undocumented residents of the U.S. should not participate in the visa lottery because of their status. It’s quite usual around this time of year for immigration-related agencies and what not to offer services “guaranteeing” success in the lottery.

But don’t be fooled by such words. An undocumented resident of the U.S. should not apply for the lottery because the chances of success, should the application actually be selected, are nil. The green cards would need to be processed at a U.S. consular post abroad, and the undocumented applicant would be subject to the three or 10-year bar to entering the U.S. that is triggered when attempting to returning.

For those who are either legal here, temporary residents of the U.S., or still living in Ireland, the lottery is definitely something to be pursued – though, of course, the chances of success are miniscule, given the millions of people from around the globe who apply for one of the coveted green cards.

For the DV-2015 lottery there were only 157 winners from the Republic of Ireland, while 41 came from Northern Ireland. There were more than 9.3 million qualified entries.

Each applicant is permitted only one entry – the electronic application system was implemented primarily to ensure that all entrants adhered to this rule.

Basic biographic information must be provided, and the applicant must meet the education/work requirement – either completion of the equivalent of a high school degree, or two years of work experience within the past five years in a field requiring at least two years of training. To see what occupations qualify for the lottery, visit

The process requires an applicant photograph, and photos for any accompanying family member. The photo entry requirements are quite precise, so for those who are not tech savvy it would be wise to make use of an agency providing application assistance, such as one of the Irish centers (Emerald Isle in Queens at 718-478-5502; Aisling Irish in Yonkers, 914-237-5121. Both groups would undoubtedly have referrals for those not living in the vicinity.)

Once the entry has been successfully filed an applicant will receive a unique confirmation number which will allow the person to check back with the website’s entrant status check in May of 2015 to see if the entry has been selected for a visa. That is the only way an applicant can discover if an entry has been selected, so the confirmation number must be kept in a secure place.

Winners will be selected at random by computer. The one year mandatory time frame that all 50,000 green cards must be distributed begins at the start of fiscal year 2016 on October 1, 2015.

For complete diversity visa application details, visit