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Summary of the United States’ Diversity Visa Program

Overview of the Diversity Visa Program

Every year, a small group of lucky individuals receive visas to the United States under the “Diversity Visa Program,” a program put in place by Congress about 20 years ago under Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Under this program, the U.S. Government authorizes approximately 55,000 visas each year.  To put the program in perspective, the 55,000 applicants are chosen from a pool of as large as 9.1 million qualified entries – placing odds of being selected at less than 1%.

Application Information

  1. Application Period: This year, an applicant can only apply during a 30-day period, which began on October 4, 2011 and will end on Saturday at November 5, 2011.
  2. Application: Applicants must complete the on-line registration.  Don’t be intimidated by this form – it is actually quite straightforward and brief.   Note:  Be sure to only fill out one entry.  Multiple entries are grounds for automatic disqualification!
  3. Qualifications to File an Application: To qualify for this program, an applicant must:
    1. Country: Come from an approved country
    2. Education/Occupation: Have at least a high school education or its equivalent or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience

Approved Countries

As implied by its name, the U.S. government instituted this visa program to encourage individuals from countries with historically low immigration rates to the U. S. to immigrate to the U.S.  If there have been more than 50,000 immigrants from a single country in the past 5 years, natives from that country are automatically disqualified.

The current list of “disapproved” countries includes:

Brazil Canada China Columbia
Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador Guatemala
Haiti India Jamaica Mexico
Pakistan Peru Philippines Poland
South Korea United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) Vietnam

Note: China can mean different things to different people.  Individuals born in mainland China are ineligible.  Persons born in Hong Kong, SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.

Once you have started the process, applicants can keep checking their status on www.dvlottery.state.gov .  Good luck to all applicants and of course, we’re happy to assist in the process!