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DV Lottery: What does a country of eligibility/chargeability mean?

By November 20, 2023Family Immigration
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Each year, the U.S. government runs a Diversity Visa lottery (or so called green card lottery) in which 50,000 people from certain countries with historically low rates of immigration win a chance to apply for a green card and immigrate to the U.S.

You can participate in the Diversity Visa green card lottery if you are a native of one of the countries designated for the particular year. For the Fiscal Year 2025, you can find a list of countries here.

A “Native” for the purposes of Diversity Visa lottery means:

  • A person who was born in a country that was designated as a country with historically low rate of immigration by the Department of State for the particular fiscal year (the list of countries can be found on the Department of State). For example, if you were born in Hungary, you are considered to be a native of this country for the purposes of the DV FY 2025 and you would be able to participate in the lottery, as Hungary is one of the countries designated by the DOS for FY 2025. Please note that what is important is the country of birth, not the country of nationality.

If you are not a native of a country designated by the DOS (you were not born in one of the eligible countries), there are some scenarios, when you can be chargeable to a different country than your country of birth and you could apply in the DV lottery under this country:

Country of birth of your spouse

For example, you were born in India and India is not on the list of the countries whose nationals can participate in the DV lottery for FY 2025. Your spouse was born in Italy. In this case, you could claim chargeability to the country of birth of your spouse (Italy) and file your DV application under Italy – in the DV entry section where it asks for country of chargeability, you would list Italy. In this scenario, your eligibility would be dependent on your spouse, and both of your DV applications would have to be approved and you would both need to enter the U.S. on the DV immigrant visas. One other important thing to keep in mind is that you will have to show that you were married to your spouse before you submitted the DV lottery entry.

Country of birth of your parents

The second option how you can be chargeable to a different country than the country you were born in, is if you were born in a country in which neither of your parents were born or were resident of at the time of your birth. In this case, you could claim the birth country of either of your parent as your country of chargeability.

It is extremely important that you input the correct country of chargeability on your DV application. If you input a country and you are not able to establish that you are chargeable to that country, you will not be able to proceed with the DV application.

One common mistake that can happen is to input the country you are currently a citizen of as your country of chargeability (but you were not born in this country), but unless you meet one of the exceptions above, this would be incorrect and you would not be able to file the DV application if selected in the lottery.

Please see our Common Q&A Blog post about the Diversity Visa lottery here.

Please see our blog post about What documents you will need to submit for the DV application if selected here.

Please see our blog post on Whether you can apply for a DV green card if you are in the U.S. on an E2 visa here.

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