The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. The Act makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the USA.
Applications are made through the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Applicants must determine if a visa is immediately available by checking the DOS Visa Bulletin. If a visa is available, applicants file Form I-485 (instructions available in a variety of languages). Registration is available online, and is generally open from October through December of each year.
The chance of winning a visa is, unfortunately, extremely limited. There are usually over 10 million applicants for the 50,000 spots. No single country can receive more than 7 percent of the total number of visas, which is 3,500. The limits are place by country, but averages per continent can be estimated.
In order to allow for those who do not pursue immigrant visas, and for the applicants who do not qualify, more "winners" are selected in the lottery than there are visas available. Thus, being selected from the lottery does not guarantee an immigrant visa. After winning, you must be able to submit all the necessary documentation for the visa.
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