How to Win the Green Card Lottery

When I tell people I won the green card lottery, they all give me the exact same shocked expression and exclaim “HOW!?”

Well, the answer is that it was easy. It took me about five minutes to enter. It didn’t cost me a cent until the visa was confirmed.

And it changed my life.

The flashing banner ads you see online telling you you’ve won are scams, but the green card lottery does actually exist – and I’m proof that people do win it. Its real name is the Diversity Visa, and it’s the only way foreigners who don’t meet the stringent requirements for other kinds of visas can live and work in the USA.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Be born in an eligible country (sadly, citizenship doesn’t help you – it’s all based on country of birth. Here’s a list of the latest ineligible countries). Note: your odds are determined by the continent you were born in – people born in Oceania have by far the best chance of winning (about 1-in-7 last time I crunched the numbers, although another friend calculated it lower than this).
  2. Wait until October (entries are only open for one month per year – set a reminder in your phone if it’s not October when you read this).
  3. Take a photo that meets all the requirements listed here.
  4. Go to and spend about five minutes submitting your entry (if you’re married, make sure your spouse enters too – that doubles your chances!)
  5. And you’re done! It truly takes minutes.

And now the waiting begins. The results won’t be drawn for over six months, and they won’t email you if you win – you have to remember to check the website. I recommend you email yourself your confirmation number and a link to this article, so you can find them both when you need them later, and then set a reminder on your phone to check the website in May.

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