The annual DV green card lottery (DV-2013) application period began on Tuesday, October 4, and will conclude at noon on Saturday, November 5.  

Applications can only be lodged electronically via Form DS-5501, available only through the State Department’s DV website at

The 50,000 green cards on offer for fiscal year 2013 are not – repeat, not – available to undocumented residents of the U.S.  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 to the country.

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-2011 lottery there were only 201 winners from the Republic of Ireland, while 38 came from Northern Ireland.
Citizens of most countries are eligible, with some exceptions – this year’s ineligible countries are Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and Vietnam.

Each applicant is permitted only one entry– the electronic application system was implemented primarily to ensure that all entrants adhered to this rule.  Those submitting more than one entry will be disqualified.

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 next May to see if the entry has been selected for a visa.

Orla Kelleher of the Aisling Irish Center points out that it’s vital for lottery applicants to keep a record of the confirmation number, because otherwise they will not be able to check if their entries were chosen.   All winners will be selected at random after the close of the entry period.

Detailed entry instructions are available here. The State Department advises visa hopefuls to file entries in a timely fashion and not at the last minute, because late demand might result in website delays.