Foreign nationals interested in immigrating to the United States and becoming permanent residents in the country have a potential route with the Diversity Visa (DV) 2016 program, which opened for registration at the beginning of October and runs through November 3. As a hopeful avenue to immigrate to the United States for those who have no family or job offer in the country, the DV program issues up to 50,000 visas per year to those who live in countries with typically low rates of immigration.
Adopted by congress in 1990, the DV program– commonly referred to as the Green Card Lottery (GCL)— is intended to provide an even playing field to foreign nationals competing to win one of a limited number of immigration spots. The green card lottery is available to those living in countries where fewer than 50,000 nationals have immigrated to the U.S. in the last five years. The lottery is closed to those from countries where more than 50,000 nationals have immigrated to the U.S.
Although numbers surrounding the rules of the green card lottery are exact, congress left some wiggle room to allow for those who fall outside the hard-and-fast lines. For example, nationals living in countries that are ineligible to participate in the green card lottery can still register if neither parent was born or living legally in the country. Additionally, having a spouse who was born in an eligible country provides another route for green card lottery entry.
Dividing the world into six geographic regions, the Department of State (DOS) has set up the lottery to allow for a fair apportion of allotted visas. The regions—Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceana and South America, Central America and the Caribbean—are each given a share of the visas. No single country in each region can receive more than 7 percent of the visas.
Currently, the citizens of 19 countries around the world are ineligible for the lottery. India, Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan and Nigeria are among the countries that already represent a heavy immigration presence in the U.S. Other disqualified countries are The Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam.
The winners of the green card lottery are chosen by random computer drawing. While the element of chance plays a big role in the lottery, winners are not automatically guaranteed a visa. While DOS characterizes the eligibility rules as simple and straightforward, the department emphasizes its strict adherence to the rules. Included here is the requirement of a completed equivalent of a high school education and work experience. Here’s a full DOS document that covers the rules.
Lottery winners will be chosen on May 5, 2015. DOS does not notify winners. Instead, it’s the responsibility of those who enter to check the DOS site after May 5 of next year to see if they’ll have the chance to continue on with the visa application process.