Why DV-2024 Lottery is pathway to cherished ‘American Dream’


The DV Lottery offers individuals and their families an opportunity to migrate to and become US permanent residents

Photo credit: Paul J Richards | AFP

You are probably aware that the Diversity Immigrant Visa programme, popularly known as the Green Card or DV Lottery, is accepting applications and will close on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

This article addresses concerns and questions raised regarding this annual and often month-long opportunity and encourages interested individuals to submit an application.

The Green Card lottery is anchored on the Immigration Act, 1990 that was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. It provides, on a yearly basis, 55,000 permanent resident visas to natives of countries that have reported low numbers of immigrants to the United States in the previous five years. Kenyans are eligible to participate in this lottery.

Unlike other industrialised nations that seek migrants and workers to make up for the declining workforce and population, the purpose of the DV Lottery programme is to ensure that America remains a melting pot of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, which is a unique and noble objective.

The DV Lottery offers individuals and their families an opportunity to migrate to and become US permanent residents. The programme has and continues to keep America diverse and competitive since immigrants contribute to innovation, productivity, and aggregate demand.


The arrival of successful applicants from all corners of the world underscores America’s leadership in keeping global populations and cultures interconnected and interdependent. It’s a vital avenue for fostering cultural, linguistic and religious understanding and tolerance.

Awarded randomly through a lottery, diversity visas have a simple requirement. Individuals with a secondary school certificate, regardless of their performance, can apply. Primary and high school dropouts can also apply—provided they have at least two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires a minimum of two years of training or experience to perform.

The application is free. The successful applicants are expected to arrive in the US in late 2024.

Very small number

Although a very small number of individuals are selected, that should not discourage anyone from taking part in the lottery. According to the Kentucky Consular Center, 15,981 Kenyan applicants have been selected in the past six lotteries, even though some might not have been able to go through the interviewing process.

These principal applicants were eligible for “derivative” or additional visas for their dependents as indicated in the lottery form. Assuming that they were each married and with three children, then nearly 64,000 Kenyans could have received permanent resident cards.

Applicants must submit coloured passport photographs of themselves and their dependents.

The pictures must be recent, in focus and with a clear, white or off-white background. They must also be in JPEG format, of square aspect ratio, and 600 by 600 pixels in dimension. There are free online tools that can edit smartphone pictures to meet these requirements.

Applicants must also list their spouses and include their details and photos—even if they are separated but not yet divorced. They must also list and provide pictures of all their children, including step-children and adopted ones, provided they are under the age of 21.

It is advisable for each of the spouses to apply, thereby doubling their chances of selection. Eligible individuals over the age of 18 can also apply on their own.

Multiple applications

Only one entry is allowed per applicant. Multiple submissions can easily be detected and would lead to disqualification. Also, pictures submitted for previous lotteries should not be used. It is important to print the confirmation page once submitted and, if possible, copy and send the same as an email to oneself for record-keeping. You would need this information to check if you have been selected or not.

The DV Lottery is the clearest pathway to permanent residency and, eventually, US citizenship. Green Card holders and their dependents can receive government assistance programmes as they find their footing in America. Despite their relatively low population, more Ghanaians, Moroccans, Sudanese, Cameroonians—and, at times, Liberians and Sierra Leoneans—take part in the Green Card lottery than Kenyans.

Those who are interested in the programme can apply only at https://dvprogram.state.gov/ before the deadline.

Mr Chesoli is a New York-based development economist and global policy expert. [email protected].