Reasons Your Diversity Lottery Visa Application Might Be Disqualified or Denied

The diversity lottery is a U.S. immigration program that seeks to increase the relative number of immigrants from countries that have proportionately low levels of immigration to the United States. Since the year 2000, a total of 50,000 diversity lottery visas have been made available each year. The countries whose nationals are eligible for the diversity lottery are determined by the level of the past five years’ admission rate levels.


Currently, most of the low-admission countries are in Europe and Africa. To qualify for the diversity visa, one needs only to be from one of the eligible countries and have a high school degree or a certain amount of work experience. You also must not be subject to any of the grounds of inadmissibility to the United States.

Between ten and 20 million people apply each year for the 50,000 available diversity visas. Because the demand is so much higher than the supply, most people are denied simply because they do not “win” the lottery by chance. Your application may, however, be disqualified or denied somewhere along the way for other reasons. Take care to avoid these when applying for the diversity lottery immigration program.

Submitting More Than One Lottery Application in the Same Registration Period

If you submit more than one application for the diversity lottery during one open-registration period, your applications will all be rejected.

While you cannot submit two applications under your name, spouses can each submit their own application and list their spouse as a derivative. This will increase each spouse’s chances of being selected, even though each person can apply only once.

Not Having the Requisite Education and/or Work Experience

To qualify for the diversity lottery, you must have either graduated from high school or have two years of work experience (within the past five years) in a field that typically requires two years of training. You do not need to meet both of these requirements, only one of the two, to be eligible for the diversity lottery.

If you seek to meet the requirement through work experience, consult the U.S. Department of Labor online database; Occupational Information Network or “O*Net.” Your occupation must be classified in job zone 4 or 5, with a Special Vocational Preparation (SPV) score of 7 or more.

Submitting an Invalid Photograph

You must submit a recent (taken within the last six months) photograph of yourself and your co-applicants. The photographs you submit must be taken facing forward and in front of a plain background. You cannot wear any hair covering unless it is for a religious purpose. Failure to submit a photograph that meets these regulations could result in the disqualification of your application. It’s usually easiest to find a professional to take the photo for you.

Not Having a Passport From Your Country When You Apply

This is a new requirement, added by the Trump Administration. The primary applicant, but not dependents, must be able to provide his or her passport number, country of issuance, and expiration date for a valid, unexpired international travel passport.

Not Having the Requisite Education and/or Work Experience

To qualify for the diversity lottery, you must have either graduated from high school or have two years of work experience (within the past five years) in a field that typically requires two years of training. You do not need to meet both of these requirements, only one of the two, to be eligible for the diversity lottery.

If you seek to meet the requirement through work experience, consult the U.S. Department of Labor online database; Occupational Information Network or “O*Net.” Your occupation must be classified in job zone 4 or 5, with a Special Vocational Preparation (SPV) score of 7 or more.