Each year the United States Government makes available 50,000 diversity immigrant visas, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
The lottery was established by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to reflect America's openness to diversity. "The idea was to diversify the immigrant pool," said John Wilcock, a visa officer with the United States Department of State. The Diversity Visa Lottery is open to natives of countries that have sent fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the last 5 years. Countries that are the sources of higher numbers of immigrants are excluded from the lottery.
Each diversity lottery is named after the fiscal year for which it is designed. This version is known as Diversity Visa 2012 because the visas will be issued during fiscal year 2012, which runs from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012.
To apply for the lottery, one must register online at the designated U.S. State Department website www.dvlottery.state.gov. Applications will be accepted only from noon Eastern Daylight Time [1600 Greenwich Mean Time] Tuesday, October 5, 2010 to noon Eastern Daylight Time [1600 Greenwich Mean Time], Wednesday, November 3, 2010. No applications will be accepted after that. Each applicant will receive a unique confirmation number at the end of the registration process.
Applicants are urged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter because heavy demand may result in website delays.
Starting on May 11, 2011 applicants for the lottery will be able to check the status of their entries on the State Department's diversity visa website wwww.dvlottery.state.gov using the Entrant Status Check link and their unique confirmation number. Until then the site will provide information on last year's lottery. People who are selected in the lottery will be instructed on how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and qualifying family members.
Notification will not be sent by regular mail and emails will not contain or ask for personal information. Participation in the lottery is free, so participants are warned to beware of fraud. The only place that DV applicants should pay for the mandatory fees connected to the application is at the time of their [visa] interview at the embassy or consulate at which they are applying.
The diversity visa program sends a clear message to the world: The United States values diversity, and welcomes immigrants from every land and culture.