Annual Greencard lottery opens October 2
The annual diversity visa lottery is still in place despite recent efforts in the House of Representatives to kill it. Last week the House rejected a bill that would have given 55,000 visas annually to highly skilled foreigners who earned advanced degrees at U.S. universities, but also would have eliminated the visa lottery for good.

The application period for the 2014 diversity visas will open at noon on Tuesday, October 2, and conclude at noon on 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, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland), and Vietnam.  (The only change from 2013 eligible countries is that this year natives of Guatemala can apply; 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 – some of the come-ons are particularly enticing, promising results no matter what the circumstances.

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, 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-2013 lottery there were only 138 winners from the Republic of Ireland, while 45 came from Northern Ireland.

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.

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 2013 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 must be distributed begins at the start of fiscal year 2014 on October 1, 2013.

Visit for a full set of entry instructions.