OK – this one should be pretty simple but it trips people up ALL THE TIME…

Certain countries are ineligible to apply for the lottery. THe reason for that is that the DV lottery program is specifically there to facilitate diversity in the immigration process. If countries already have high numbers of emigration to the USA then they become ineligible for the DV lottery. The countries that are ineligible can change year to year and in DV2016 the list of ineligible countries is as follows:-

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea,
United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

This is actually unchanged from DV2015, although that year saw Nigeria added to the list.

OK – so what does this mean?

If you were born in one of the ineligible countries you most likely cannot participate in the DV lottery (there are some exceptions, which I will explain later).  Note I said “born in”. Let’s repeat that –  “BORN IN”. Even though the instructions are clear about this point people keep getting this wrong. It does not matter where you live, it doesn’t matter what passport you hold or citizenship. This is based on nativity – the place you were born.

OK – I said there are some exceptions. Yes there are. The main one is eligibility through marriage – this exception allowed me to enter the lottery… if you were born in an ineligible country, but are married to someone born in an eligible country then you and your spouse can both enter – you charging to her country. So – I was born in the UK (ineligible), but my wife is a native (was born in) Spain. I therefore entered and chose Spain as the country of my changeability. It is important to note that this marriage must be legal at the point of the eDV entry. You cannot enter today and find someone to marry from an eligible country. One second point about this is that if you do win and charge to your spouse’s country you both must meet the other requirement (education/work experience – explained here). This second point is very important. In this scenario, if your spouse wins (and she is native of the eligible country) then your education/work experience is not important (not even checked). If however you win then you will both have to prove that you meet the requirement for education/work experience.

There is also another exception known as the missionary exception. Let’s say you were born in an ineligible country because your parents were there temporarily, you may be able to chose to be charged to either one of their countries of birth. This is obviously more difficult to prove, but what is important is that you have to show your parents were not permanent residents your country of birth at the time and neither parent was born in the same country as you. This is normally because a multinational company or organization has sent your parents for a temporary period – typically (though not always) leaving after a period of time. If you think this exception might apply to you, I suggest you contact me and explain the situation so that I can give you an opinion on whether you can make a case or not.

Please read this important update about elective cross charging.