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ALLAN WERNICK: What you need to know about the DV 2021 ‘green card lottery’


Every year the U.S. offers a certain number of green cards under the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program — otherwise known as the green card lottery. According to the State Department, there will be 50,000 “Diversity Visas,” or DVs, available in fiscal year 2021.

Online registration for the DV 2021 green card lottery begins Oct. 2 at 12 p.m. (EST) and runs until Nov. 5 at 12 p.m. For more information, go to There is no cost to register for the DV program.

Q. Which countries are involved this year?

There’s no change from last year. Natives of all countries qualify except Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, 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. If you were born in a qualifying country but your spouse wasn’t you both can enter.

Q. Anything new this year?

A. Yes. To enter the lottery, you’ll need a valid, unexpired passport from your home country. When you complete your entry, you’ll need to provide information about that passport. Your spouse and child need not have a valid passport for you to include them in your entry.

Q. If I am in the United States without lawful status and I win the lottery, can I get a green card?

A. In most cases, no. That’s because you need to travel home to get your immigrant visa. If you have been here more than 180 days, you may face the “unlawful presence” bar and not be allowed to return for three years. A lottery win is good for one year only.

Q. How come, year after year, my home country is left off the lottery eligibility list?

A. A country’s nationals are not eligible for the lottery if 50,000 individuals or more have immigrated from that country over the prior five years.

Q. If I win the lottery, can my family immigrate with me?

A. Yes. Your spouse (including same-sex spouses) and unmarried children under 21 can get green cards when you do, no matter where they were born.

Q. Are there other requirements?

A. Yes. You must have at least a U.S. high school degree or its equivalent, or you must have worked, during the last five years, at least two years in a job where two years training or experience is required.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 7th Fl., 4 New York Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10004 or email to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.