About DV

What is DV lottery?

Have you heard an immigrant in your community talking about how he or she “won the lottery?” In all likelihood, the lottery your neighbor is talking about is the Diversity Visa program, which is administered by the Department of State as a way to increase the diversity of the immigrants coming to live in the United States.

Each year, the Diversity Visa program allows 50,000 randomly selected people—only from countries that don’t send many immigrants to the United States—to obtain permanent residency (commonly called a “green card”). It’s a way for individuals and families who otherwise wouldn’t have any way to legally immigrate to the United States to get a green card.

Entering the Diversity Visa lottery (aka green card lottery) involves filling out a simple form online, and it doesn’t cost anything. You can enter the lottery every year from early October through early November. The winners are selected at random by a computer, and they and their immediate families receive green cards.

History of the Diversity Visa

The Diversity Visa was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 as a way to increase the diversity among immigrants to the United States. There have always been a handful of countries from which the majority of immigrants to the United States come, and Congress established the Diversity Visa program to increase the number of immigrants from smaller countries and countries that don’t send many immigrants to the United States.

The Diversity Visa is administered primarily by the U.S. State Department. The State Department runs the lottery and selects and notifies the winners. Over 95 percent of immigrants who win the green card lottery go through the State Department to get their green cards, as most of them are living outside the United States when they win the Diversity Visa lottery.

Just because the Diversity Visa exists now doesn’t mean that it isn’t subject to change. Several past and current immigration reform bills in Congress would eliminate the program entirely—though for now, none of these proposals have been enacted yet.