DV-Program Overview

The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program is an official US government program for immigration to the United States of America. It was established after the US Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1990 on October 27, 1990, and once US President George H.W. Bush signed that legislation into law on November 29, 1990. The Immigration Act of 1990 made several modifications to the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) of 1965, including the creation of the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Program.

From 1921 to 1965, immigration to the United States had been determined by a quota system that sought to maintain the status quo in terms of the proportionality of various ethnic groups in the US population. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) of 1965 changed that formula to instead emphasize the job skills of applicants for immigration to the United States, as well as their family relationships with people who were citizens or permanent residents of the USA. In the Immigration Act of 1990, the US Congress established the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program to be administered by the US State Department with a key goal being to further “diversify” the population of the United States.

According to the US State Department, “Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as ‘diversity immigrants,’ from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. A limited number of visas are available each fiscal year. The DVs are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.” These six geographic areas are: (1) Africa; (2) Asia; (3) Europe; (4) North America; (5) Oceania; and (6) South America, Mexico, Central America, and The Caribbean. A lottery system was instituted to help create a fair process for randomly selecting winners (known as “selectees”) from the millions of participants in the annual DV-Lottery who can then have the opportunity to apply for the 55,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) made available each year.

The designation for a particular DV-Lottery corresponds to the year that a DV-Lottery winner is authorized to enter the USA if they successfully pass the Consular Interview stage and are issued a United States Permanent Resident Visa (i.e., Diversity Visa). For example, registration for the DV-2022 American Diversity Visa Lottery starts October 7, 2020, and ends on November 7, 2020, for the DV-Lottery that will be held in early 2021. The winners (“selectees”) of DV-2022 will be announced starting on May 8, 2021, and if they pass the Consular Interview successfully and are issued a Diversity Visa, they may then immigrate to the United States in 2022. That is why “DV-2022” is the designation for this particular DV-Lottery.

A Diversity Visa is a United States Permanent Resident (PR) Visa, which authorizes a foreign national to immigrate to the US and grants them many of the privileges enjoyed by American citizens. It should be noted that the Diversity Visa is a US immigration visa that is stamped in a new immigrant’s passport, while the hard plastic Green Card is carried long-term as proof of permanent resident status in the United States. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status also allows a foreign national to legally work in the USA, start a business, attend educational programs, apply for a driver’s license, buy a home and enjoy the many freedoms that America offers its more than 328 million residents. One of the most important benefits of LPR status is the option to apply for US citizenship after living as a permanent resident of the United States for at least five years and meeting other criteria.