Immigration Lottery

The immigration lottery, which is also known as the “diversity lottery program” or DV lottery”, after several generations, was finally revised as a method to choose those countries that are considered under-represented in the nationalities of people emigrating to the U.S.

Over the years, there has been various immigration legislation passed in an attempt to broaden the range of countries that send immigrants to the U.S. As part of that effort, the immigration lottery is intended to diversify the whole country and the nationalities of the people immigrating to the U.S.

There are a lot of reasons for the number of visas in the lottery going to various regions of the globe. Based on different considerations, some countries get into the lottery and some do not, but the overall purpose was to diversify the nationality of immigrants coming to the U.S.

How does the U.S. determine which countries get to participate and which countries don’t?

Normally, the U.S. government looks at the amount of immigration from the various countries in the last 5 years. Since the law’s goal is to diversify the immigration population in the U.S., they look at the past 5 years of immigration patterns from each country to determine which countries have the highest number of immigrants coming into the U.S. For each DV lottery, the government publishes a list of which countries are allowed to apply for the lottery through an online registration program. This list is derived from the information discerned through the volume of immigration.   

How many countries can participate in the lottery?

Each year, the number of countries and which countries may participate is updated. Of course, there are several countries that are consistently not included. For example, China, the Philippines, Mexico and India are backlogged through the sponsored immigrant visa process. This means they have a high volume of people immigrating to the U.S. These countries are usually not included in the DV Lottery. Otherwise, most countries can apply but again it depends upon the number of immigrants who have been coming from the particular countries for the last five years. For example, natives from Bangladesh, Canada, and Brazil are also not allowed to register for the lottery because they have high levels of immigration coming into the U.S.

Is the lottery conducted annually?

Yes. It is an annual process.

Is there anything that a prospective immigrant can do to increase their changes through the lottery program to get selected?

 No. It is purely random.

Can anyone from a country that isn’t excluded apply to be in the lottery?

No. The DV Lottery still has additional requirements. For example, the DV Lottery for Fiscal Year 2019 still maintains a requirement that the application have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have worked in a qualifying job for two of the last 5 years. The list of qualifying jobs may also change from year to year.

Additionally, as with any other visa, the applicant must be of good moral character and satisfy other visa requirements. The only difference in the lottery program visa process is that the person does not have to be sponsored by anyone in the U.S.

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