FTC Consumer Alert
Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection Division of Consumer & Business Education
Diversity Visa Lottery:
Read the Rules, Avoid the Rip-Offs
If you or someone you know is trying to get a green card — the right to live in the United States
permanently — be on the lookout for unscrupulous businesses and attorneys. They’ll claim that, for a
fee, they can make it easier to enter the U. S. State Department’s annual Diversity Visa (DV) lottery
(also known as the “green card lottery”) or increase your chances of winning the DV lottery.
Each year, the State Department conducts a lottery through its DV program to distribute applications
for 50,000 immigrant visas. Winners of the lottery have a chance to apply for an immigrant visa,
which can be used to enter the U. S. Winners are selected randomly, and there is no fee to enter the
Entries to the DV lottery must be submitted online at www.dvlottery.state.gov. (This site is
only accessible during the application period.) Paper entries or mail-in requests will not be accepted.
Lottery entrants must include a passport-style digital photograph and separate digital photographs of
any spouse and children under 21 years of age. Group photographs are not allowed. Check with the
State Department for technical requirements of the digital photograph.
Entries are accepted for a limited time. For the DV-2009 Lottery (to be conducted in 2007), the
application period is from October 3, 2007, through December 2, 2007. DV-2009 visas will be
issued between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Check with the State Department for entry
dates for future DV lotteries.
Entrants may submit only one entry during any particular DV lottery; those who submit more than one
entry will be disqualified. Spouses may submit separate entries, however, if each meets the eligibility
requirements. If only one spouse is selected, the other may enter the country on the Diversity Visa of
the winning spouse.
The DV lottery has two eligibili