The Diversity Visa Lottery

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” Section 203(c) of the INA provides a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas (DV) each fiscal year to be made available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The annual DV program makes permanent resident visas (“Green Cards”) available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. A computer-generated, random lottery drawing chooses selectees for diversity visas. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the period of the past five years. Within each region, no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.

The lottery filing period usually lasts 60 days and takes place late in the calendar year, usually during the months of October and November.  For more information, go to the website of the
U.S.State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. The on-line electronic application is available at:

Last Updated: 8/28/14