Green Cards and Permanent Residence in the U.S.
Learn how to get a Green Card to become a permanent resident, check your green card case status, bring a foreign spouse to live in the U.S. and what documents you need when traveling back to the U.S. Also, find out how to enter or check your results for the Diversity Visa Lottery program.
Apply for, Renew, or Replace a Green Card
A Green Card (Permanent Resident Card):
If you have questions about applying for, renewing, or replacing a Green Card, contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Apply for a Green Card
Renew or Replace a Green Card
Learn how to renew or replace your Green Card:
Check Your Case Status
Beware of Scams
Get familiar with the immigration, visa, or Green Card process. This can help protect your personal information and money against scammers. Learn about common immigration scams and how to identity fraud, or file a complaint in your state.
Authenticate a U.S. Document for Use in Another Country
You may need to present a legal document issued in the United States for use in another country. These documents can include court orders, contracts, vital records, and educational diplomas. To verify signatures, stamps, or seals on these documents, they must be authenticated.
The process to get a document authenticated depends on the specific document, the state in which it was issued, and other factors. Check with your state’s document authentication agency. Also, visit the Authentications page from the Department of State (DOS).
If the country in which you are presenting your documents is a member of the 1961 Hague Convention, you can get an apostille. An apostille validates seals and signatures of officials on public documents. Apostilles authenticate birth certificates, court orders, and many other documents. Learn more about apostilles and how they are issued.
For more information, details on a procedure, or status, call the DOS Office of Authentications at 1-202-485-8000. Phone hours are from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Typically, appointment hours are from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET, Monday through Friday. However, due to COVID-19, the Office of Authentications is not accepting in-person appointments at this time.
Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Green Card Lottery)
The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program allows for up to 55,000 immigrant visas to be awarded each year. Foreign nationals of countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. can participate in a random drawing for the potential of getting an immigrant visa (Green Card). Check the State Department’s Diversity Visa site to learn more about the program.
Diversity Visa Lottery Eligibility
The DV Lottery, also known as the Green Card Lottery, makes a limited number of immigrant visas available every year to people meeting certain eligibility requirements:
- You must be a foreign citizen from a country with a low immigration rate to the United States.
- Each year, the U.S. Department of State puts out a list of eligible and ineligible countries. The list of countries may change each year. See the 2023 DV lottery instructions for the most recent list.
- You must have graduated from high school or its equivalent or have qualifying work experience.
How to Register for the Diversity Visa Lottery
Register online for the 2023 Diversity Visa Lottery. It began on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, and ends on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at 12:00 PM ET.
- Complete the free online application for the lottery. It is a web form only and cannot be downloaded.
- Keep your confirmation number in a safe place; you will need that number to check the status of your entry online.
- If you qualify for a Green Card, 2023 is the year you can enter the United States.
For help, review the DV lottery instructions.
DV Lottery Results
- Check the results for the 2022 DV lottery. The 2022 results are available from May 8, 2021, through September 30, 2022. Results for the 2023 lottery will be available in the future.
- You must remember to check the lottery results yourself online, using your confirmation number. The State Department will not send you a letter or an email to let you know if you have been selected. See the fraud warning below.
If You Are a Diversity Visa Lottery Winner
If you are selected through the random lottery drawing, you can move forward in applying for an immigrant visa (Green Card).
Diversity Visa Lottery Fraud Warning
The State Department wants DV lottery participants to know about scams involving fraudulent email and letters sent to DV program applicants. The U.S. government is the exclusive operator of the DV program. It may send you an email reminding you to check the status of your entry, but it will not contact you by email or letter to let you know if you have been selected. You have to check online yourself. The U.S. government will also never ask you to pay for your visa in advance by wire transfer, money order, or check.
Sponsor a Foreign Spouse, Future Spouse, or Relative
Your status determines who you can bring (sponsor) to live and work in the United States.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor:
If you are a permanent resident, you can sponsor:
If you have been a refugee or asylee within the past two years, you can petition for certain family members to obtain refugee or asylee status.
If you or a member of your family is in the U.S. military, you may petition for citizenship for family members.
Travel Documents for Foreign Residents Returning to the U.S.
You may need additional documents to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad if:
- You are a foreign citizen living in the U.S., or
- You have a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
You should obtain these necessary documents before your trip. You can get them from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Travel Documents for Permanent and Conditional Residents
- If you’re absent from the U.S. for one year or longer:
- If you’re absent from the U.S. for less than one year:
- No additional document is required.
- Show your Green Card upon your return.
Travel Documents for All Other Foreign Citizens Living in the U.S.
Contact USCIS and your country's embassy or consulate for all document requirements.
Note: If you need a travel document, but left the U.S. without obtaining one, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for assistance:
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Last Updated: October 6, 2021
Green Card Through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
Most lottery winners reside outside the United States and immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa. To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.
Diversity Visa Winners Legally Residing In the United States: Apply Through USCIS
There are, however, a small number of lottery winners each year who, at the time of “winning the lottery,” are residing in the United States in a nonimmigrant or other legal status. For these winners residing inside the United States, USCIS processes adjustment of status applications.
The following information applies to winners legally residing in the United States only.
For an applicant to adjust status under the DV Program, you must establish that you:
For visa availability, check the latest month's DOS Visa Bulletin. Section B contains a chart showing the current month's visa availability in the Diversity Immigrant category. The chart shows when the Diversity Immigrant cut-off is met. When the cut-off is met, visas will be available in that month for the applicants with Diversity Immigrant lottery rank numbers below the specified cut-off numbers for their geographic areas.
Section C contains a chart showing the Diversity Immigrant category rank cut-offs for the following month, which represents the advance notification of Diversity Immigrant visa availability. As soon as a monthly Visa Bulletin is published, anyone with a lower rank number than the rank cut-off number shown in Section C is eligible to file for adjustment of status. This provides lottery winners the opportunity to file for adjustment of status up to six or seven weeks before a visa number can actually be allocated. This gives USCIS additional time to determine your eligibility for adjustment of status before the end of the fiscal year.
A Diversity Immigrant-based adjustment application cannot be adjudicated until a visa can be allocated, as indicated in the Visa Bulletin’s current Diversity Immigrant rank cut-offs for a particular month.
To obtain a Green Card, you must file Form I-485.
Supporting Evidence for Form I-485
Submit the following evidence with your Form I-485:
The adjustment of status process for diversity visa winners must be completed by September 30 of the fiscal year the lottery pertains to. Visas cannot be carried over to the next fiscal year.
Fraudsters may send you emails claiming you’ve won the Diversity Visa (Green Card) lottery.
Never send money to anyone who sends you a letter or email claiming you have won - learn how to protect yourself from scams.
Official DV Lottery Green Card Program
The Diversity Visa Program (DV Lottery) is congressionally-mandated and allows up to 55,000 persons from nations that are historically under-represented in terms of migration to the United States of America to qualify each year for immigrant visas which are also known as Green Cards.
The program is called the “Green Card Lottery” or "dvlottery", because the winners are determined through a random drawing from among the 10–12 million people who enter each year world wide.
The US is proud to be a country of immigrants. However, far more people are coming to the USA from certain countries than from others. For example, just those immigrating from Mexico, China and the Philippines are by far outnumbering those from most of the other countries accumulated. In order to maintain a diversity in the population, US laws regulate immigration from particular regions of the world.
For this reason the USA has been randomly distributed 55,000 so called Green Cards in the DV Lottery every year since 1994.
You can enter the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery for free at www.state.gov or use our service if you need any help with the application process. www.dvlottery.com is powered by The American Dream - US GreenCard Service GmbH, a government licensed immigration consultancy. We are not affiliated with the U.S. Government or any government agency.
US Green Card Lottery Reopens; Past Winners Still in Limbo
As the U.S. government officially opens its diversity visa lottery program at the start of a new fiscal year, thousands of past winners from Afghanistan, Egypt, Peru, Iran and other nations continue to endure processing delays that are dimming hopes of a new life in America.
The Biden administration announced Wednesday that registration for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program for 2023 — popularly known as green card lottery — had begun. Congress authorized 55,000 green cards per year for immigrants around the world to promote diversity in the U.S.
Registration starts well before any given fiscal year — in this case, 2023 — to allow time for processing applications. But delays have become chronic and spawned legal action.
While accepting new applications, U.S. officials acknowledge a severe backlog in processing existing ones, many of which were filed during the former Trump administration and have been slowed by the pandemic.
For people like Samar, a 35-year-old historian from Egypt and a 2021 diversity visa winner, the window for getting authorization to travel to the U.S. is closing. An outspoken critic of human rights violations in her home country, she asked VOA not to reveal her last name.
"My fiscal year (deadline) ended on September 30, 2021. (The U.S. government) has not replied to the majority of my inquiries about my (diversity visa) case," Samar said. "This immigration opportunity is not a luxury for my family. … My family and I have experienced police harassment since 2016. … This immigration opportunity will help me and my family start a humane and safe life."
Visa eligibility does not transfer to the following year. The entire process must be completed in a year. With time running out, the mother of three decided to join other diversity visa winners in a lawsuit against the U.S. government in hopes of getting travel documents.
In an email to VOA, a State Department spokesperson said, "Being randomly chosen as a selectee does not guarantee that you will receive a visa or a visa interview. Selection merely means that the person is eligible to participate in the DV program."
The explanation is of little comfort to Samar.
"My husband and I have been applying for (diversity visas) since 2000. We have three kids. We followed all procedures and submitted all required forms and documents," she said. "We even tried to leave for the EU but couldn't get a visa."
The diversity visa program has had bumpy years of late.
In 2017, then-President Donald Trump announced a series of actions that blocked people from Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States.
Then, in March 2020, Trump shut down consulates around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. His administration subsequently announced a ban on certain immigrant visas, arguing it was needed to protect the American economy.
As a result, thousands of winners of the visa lottery were blocked from coming to the United States.
According to federal documents, once consulates began to reopen in the summer of 2020, officials were ordered to process diversity visas last.
Immigrant advocates sued. Last month, a federal judge ordered the Biden administration to resume processing lottery visa winners. Last week, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta in Washington issued an order setting aside about 7,000 visas for diversity lottery winners.
In court documents, U.S. officials said delays stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic, an argument that did not sway the judge.
"Some of that shortfall is no doubt due to the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic is not the primary culprit," Mehta said in his ruling. He added that a significant cause of processing delays is "the State Department's complete cessation of adjudicating diversity visa applications for five months and its unlawful deprioritizing of those applications when adjudications resumed."
While the State Department declined to comment on ongoing litigation, the agency said, "We are committed to reducing the backlog of immigrant visa applicants waiting to schedule appointments at their U.S. embassy or consulate, while keeping our staff and applicants safe. Applicants should monitor the website of the relevant embassy or consulate for updates."
US embassies swamped
According to immigration lawyers representing diversity visa winners, U.S. embassies have thousands of cases to process and are interviewing about 10 diversity visa cases a month.
"And it's so heartbreaking and frustrating for these people, because they've been in limbo for two years to get here," immigration lawyer Curtis Morrison told VOA.
Morrison said winners experiencing current delays have a roughly 1-in-3 chance of finishing the process and immigrating to the U.S.
"We're going to ask for more visas ... but we can't guarantee that the judge is going to go along with our ask," he said, referencing ongoing litigation.
Samar received news in 2020 that she had won a spot in the diversity visa program. She was tapped from among the millions of people around the world who enter the lottery each year.
She told VOA she sent all required paperwork and has been waiting for an interview at an American consulate.
But the last part of this process has yet to take place.
Samar said she could apply for the 2023 program, but the odds of winning the lottery twice in a row are small.
"Which means that my immigration to the U.S. is impossible at the current pace," she said.
VOA's Cindy Spang contributed to this report.
Lottery green card
Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Now Open
If you’ve ever dreamed of immigrating to the United States, now could be your chance.
Registration opened Oct. 6 for the FY2023 Diversity Visa lottery, a program that grants green cards to more than 50,000 randomly selected people from around the world.
The program, also known as the “green card lottery,” was established in 1990 to increase diversity in the United States. To qualify, you need to be a citizen of a country that has sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the past five years.
To enter the lottery, all you have to do is fill out a simple form online at dvprogram.state.gov. Registration closes on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at noon. The State Department recommends applying sooner rather than later, since high demand could cause website delays.
The winners are chosen at random by a computer, which allocates a certain number of visas to each region of the world. You can check the status of your application starting on May 8, 2022 using the Entrant Status Check link on the Diversity Visa webpage.
For more information, check out Boundless’ detailed guide on the Diversity Visa program and this article on the 2022 Diversity Visa winners.
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