What is the green card lottery?

Германская лотерея lotto (6 из 49 + 1 из 10)

History of the Green Card Lottery

This lottery to receive the right to permanently live in the USA is one of kind across the globe. The idea came from the former U.S. president Ronald Reagan in 1987. At this time, he was worried about the waning ethnic diversity in the United States, especially after he passed a bill to give amnesty and resident permanent cards to 2 million Mexicans living illegally in the USA. Today as back then, there are two very significant ideas behind the DV Program: First of all, America wants to protect its cultural diversity characterized by a long history of immigration. Secondly, the Green Card Lottery should revamp the image of the USA as a country of possibilities. The lottery gives people who have no other possibility to get an immigration visa a chance to get a permanent visa to live and work in the USA. The requirements make it so that almost everyone can participate in the Green Card Lottery.      


The first version of the Diversity Visa Program was the “NP-5 Lottery Program”. This program was established in 1987 under the Immigration and Control Acts 1986 (IRCA) and allocated 5,000 visas to be given away to 36 participating countries annually for two years. In 1986 the program was renewed for another two years and the limit was increased to 15,000 visas per lottery. 

In the years 1990 and 1991, 10,000 Green Cards were given away under the new OP-1 Program. In the following two years, the AA-1 Program was established as a temporary solution and gave away 40,000 visas. Moreover, only 37 countries were allowed to participate in the program and of all the visas, 16,000 were reserved for Northern Ireland.

It wasn’t until 1994 when the current version of the Diversity Visa Program was established to give away 55,000 Green Cards in a random drawing. The participation requirements are so that almost every country can participate, excluding those which already have a high rate of immigration. Countries are not allowed to participate in the Green Card Lottery when more than 50,000 residents of that country have legally emigrated to the USA in the last five years. This could be through, for example, a family- or work-based visa.

  • Since 1994, the Green Card Lottery has taken place once a year and the application submission period is generally between October and November.
  • In 2000, the authorities responsible for processing the Green Card applications changed. The National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth was replaced by the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC).
  • Since 1995, applicants are only allowed to send in one application per person per year. Those who send in more than one application will be automatically disqualified. More importantly, all information given in the application must be correct and you do not want to risk your chance. The American Dream comes into play here as your reliable emigration consultation agency.
  • In 1995, there were more than a million disqualifications due to applications being full of mistakes, such as missing or false data. 
  • All Green Card applications had to be submitted in written form until 2002. Even The American Dream had to bring tens of thousands of original applications from our customers to our New York branch. From there, all the letters were mailed in the USA to the responsible US authorities.
  • In 2003, a new system required all Green Card applications to be submitted online. That means that photos must be uploaded in a digital format and all personal information and data must be submitted electronically.
  • The US authorities no longer notify winners via post. Instead, participants in this digital age are expected to check the status of their application by themselves online. The American Dream will send you written confirmation of your personal lottery results. With us, you can rest assured that your application is in good hands. 
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