- What Is the Green Card (Diversity Visa) Program?
The U.S. Department of State operates a random computer drawing for those of you who wish to enter the USA to take up residence, seek employment,
study, conduct business, invest, retire, or join family members already in the United States. As the "diversity" name implies,
the program was established to increase the numbers of immigrants entering the U.S. from underrepresented countries.
This special green card category is reserved for immigrants born in countries that have very few immigrants entering the United States.
Specifically, if a country has had more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the last five years, then those countries are ineligible for the lottery.
Although the terms "diversity visa lottery," "visa lottery," DV-lottery," and "green card lottery" are used interchangeably here, the U.S. government program officially refers to this program as the "diversity visa lottery." The reason it is called a visa lottery is because the U.S. must grant an immigrant visa to a foreign national before issuing a green card.
The visa lottery is for anyone who wants to become a U.S. permanent resident. This also includes temporary employees, students, business people, visitors, and others who are already in the U.S.
Please note that a green card is not issued automatically by winning the lottery, but is obtained after you submit additional documentation, are interviewed by a government official, and are given an immigrant visa. Winning the diversity visa lottery just gives you an opportunity to receive U.S. permanent residency provided you follow and meet the requirements described in this book.
- How It Began
The system originated in 1986 with several temporary programs created to help balance the burgeoning immigrant populations from Asia and Latin America.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides 4 primary ways by which an individual may immigrate to the U.S. - family, employment/ investment,
asylum/refugee and the Diversity Visa Program. The current diversity program was enacted as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT90).
In 1995, a permanent diversity visa Program system was established, awarding 55,000 visas to Program winners. Over the last decade, the U.S. Congress increased this figure to as many as 95,000 visas and then reduced it to 50,000.
In 1997, the U.S. Congress passed the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), which set aside an additional 5,000 visas solely for beneficiaries of this program.
- Today's Program System
Counting NACARA, the number of diversity visas is currently 55,000 per year. However,
for the purposes of this book, we will always use the 50,000 figure since 5,000visas are reserved for NACARA.
The visas are divided between six geographical world regions. No more than 7% (or 3,500) of the 50,000 visas go to immigrants born in any single country. As we will discuss next, there are actually twice as many "winners" initially selected as there are visas granted.
- How Many Diversity Visa Winners Are There Each Year?
There are 50,000 visas available under the Diversity Visa Program. However, approximately 100,000 applicants are initially selected as "winners."
(To be even more precise, the actual number of winners selected for DV-2013 was 105,628 due to NACARA.) Therefore,
roughly twice as many winners are selected as there are visas available. This is because, historically, about half of those selected change
their mind or more often, fail to qualify due to problems with their application.
Also note that each person in the Principal Applicant's family gets one of the 50,000 available visas even if there is only one "winner" per family.
- What the "DV" Name Means?
Today's diversity visa Program system is often referred to as the DV-Program. It became identified with the "DV"
(Diversity Visa) symbol followed by the U.S. Government fiscal year in which the visas are finally awarded.
For example, the Program in calendar year 2013 is known as DV 2015, since the green cards are awards are awarded in fiscal year 2015. The U.S. government's 2015 fiscal year begins October 1, 2014 and ends September 30, 2015.