President Donald Trump has promised to eliminate the diversity visa lottery, but he hasn’t eliminated it yet. The application period opens October 3 and continues through November 6 for calendar year 2020, and those interested in applying may do so online through the Department of State website.
Interested applicants should only apply through the site, where there is no fee. It is a lottery, so they should also beware of scammers who claim to be able to somehow increase their odds of being picked. Scammers also try to call people or email people after the lottery to get their personal data by saying they have been selected in the lottery. Applicants should be suspicious of anyone who tries to contact them by phone or email in the government's name since official status updates are posted on the Entrant Status Check website.
Trump has spoken of the program as if it were Power Ball, where the winner wins, no matter what. That isn’t the case. Those whose names come up go through the vetting process required of anyone who applies to immigrate to the United States. They must have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, or at least two years of work experience in a number of specified job fields. They go through the usual process that all prospective immigrants face when they apply to come to the United States.
Despite Trump’s fears, the diversity visa lottery recipients represent only a small part of the immigrant population—50,000 a year—and less than one percent of the overall US population. The program started 30 years ago, and it has given opportunities to people who might not otherwise qualify for immigration to the United States through other means, and who come from under-represented countries in America. Because Central America, Mexico, Canada, China and large parts of Southeast Asia already have substantial populations in the United States, applicants from countries in those regions won’t be accepted.