Chances of winning the Green Card Lottery?

There are probably few people who have not heard of the annual Green Card lottery, which raffles for a residence permit in the United States of America. This lottery is perceived by many as an easy and “budgetary” way to move to the USA. The procedure for applying for participation in the lottery itself is really extremely simple: you need to fill out a questionnaire on the official website without leaving your home and just wait for the results. This is much easier than, for example, traveling to the United States on one of the existing visas, and then renewing the visa, hiring a lawyer in order to acquire legal status, spending a lot of money on all of this. In addition, the number of visas granted annually is heard – 50,000. At first glance, the number is quite impressive and inspiring some hope. But how likely is the chance of winning the Green Card lottery really?

Green Card Lottery Winners Statistics

Let’s take a look at the statistics first. Below is information for some CIS and European countries for 2015 (data for 2016 is currently not available). First, the total number of applicants is indicated, then the number of winners. In brackets – the percentage of winners from the total number of participants.

  • Russia: 265086/4103 (1.54%)
  • Ukraine: 1274758/4679 (0.36%)
  • Belarus: 100443/1466 (1.46%)
  • Kazakhstan: 46,613 / 772 (1.65%)
  • Uzbekistan: 1,387,420 / 4,368 (0.3%)
  • Poland: 65,774 / 961 (1.46%)
  • Latvia: 7,424 / 92 (1.23%)
  • Lithuania: 18735/287 (1.53%)
  • Estonia: 3991/71 (1.77%)
  • Armenia: 131,088/2049 (1.56%)
  • Georgia: 53,395 / 804 (1.5%)

As you can see, in some countries the number of participants exceeds a million, in others it is limited to several thousand. Residents of Ukraine and Uzbekistan have the least chances of winning the Green Card lottery – precisely because of the too many applicants. If you live in one of these countries, then you should not place high hopes on the Green Card lottery. Remember, however, if your spouse is a citizen of another country, you have the right to indicate your spouse’s country of birth on the application form (this does not contradict the lottery rules). For residents of Ukraine and Uzbekistan, this is more than relevant. The greatest chances of winning the Green Card lottery are in Estonia, which, apparently, also has the smallest number of participants. Thus, the probability of winning the lottery for an Estonian is almost 6 times higher than for a citizen of Uzbekistan.

For comparison, consider several other countries:

  • Germany: 92176/1354 (1.46%)
  • France: 54488/816 (1.49%)
  • Japan: 50501/636 (1.25%)
  • Ghana 1729979/3381 (0.2%)
  • Iran 932346/4992 (0.5%)

As you can see, the picture around the world does not differ much from that in most CIS countries. For countries with a moderate number of applicants, the winning percentage is 1.2 – 1.5%. For countries with an excessively high rate of applicants, the winning percentage is disappointing: 0.2 – 0.5%. In addition, there are countries that are generally excluded from the Green Card lottery. These are Great Britain, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Philippines and some others. The reason for the exclusion is obvious: there are already enough immigrants from these countries, while the goal of the lottery is to maintain the country’s national diversity.

How to improve the chances of winning the Green Card Lottery?

The above information shows only dry statistics, but what about the real factors, on the basis of which you can either increase your chances, or, on the contrary, reduce them to zero?

Having a spouse will help you double your chances of winning the Green Card lottery. Indeed, according to the rules of the lottery, if your spouse wins, you automatically receive the coveted Green Card.

If your spouse was born in a country where the percentage of winners is higher – participate from the spouse’s country. If it’s the other way around, let the spouse participate from your country of birth.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is the importance of filling out the questionnaire correctly. The All About USA site has ample information on how to do this. Take the time to study this information carefully. Remember that incorrectly completed questionnaires are the first to fall out.

In addition, do not forget that after confirming your winnings, you will need to successfully pass the interview, and only then the way to the USA will open for you. An important point: you need to not fall under one of all kinds of restrictions. Among them: the presence of serious mental and physical illnesses, drug addiction, problems with the law.

Do not assume that having a Green Card will allow you to freely enter the country whenever you want and leave it. After confirming your winnings, you will need to move to the United States and then stay in the country for at least 6 months a year. Otherwise, you may be deprived of the cherished green piece of plastic.

So, it is obvious that the probability of winning the Green Card lottery is low in any country. If you consider moving to the United States only as one of the possible options for the development of your life, then nothing prevents you from submitting an annual application for participation in the Green Card lottery. However, if you are really aiming at moving and want to do this in the near future, then you better try to enter the country with one of the visas – tourist, student – and decide on the spot whether to legalize your status. Which method you prefer is up to you. But tune in advance that you will not be able to do without an experienced lawyer, as well as without significant financial investments.

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Igor Smith/ author of the article
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