A Brief History
The Diversity Visa Lottery dates back to the 1990s. Congress had passed a law at the beginning of that decade intending to increase immigration to the United States from countries with low immigration rates. Back then, it was all done through the post office. You had to mail hard copies of the Diversity Visa form and passport size pictures to the designated address, while hoping that your mail would arrive before the deadline set, in order to be a part of the DV process.
However, as technology improved, the mail version of the Program was replaced in 2003 (i.e. DV-2005) by an electronic version. The new version meant that entries would then be sent via the internet. This version would however maintain its “lottery” nature as well as the number of applicants to be selected, as the original version; meaning that there would still be a RANDOM SELECTION carried out among the qualified entries to choose 50,000 WINNERS. This is what has been going on for more than a decade now.
Entering the Lottery
The DV Lottery is mostly concentrated to a little over a month (generally from early October to early November) every year. During this period, referred to as the DV entry or registration period, entrants from most countries around the world enter the DV process.
The process involves accessing the official DV website and filling in an online form, which includes uploading a recently-taken digital passport size photo that should respect a number of technical specifications. Once the form is successfully completed, it is then submitted electronically.
This goes on throughout the DV entry period. At a specified time on the final day, however, the official DV website announces the end of the entry process, and the DV form on the website automatically becomes unavailable and thus inaccessible to entrants. Then comes the selection.
The first step in the selection process is the sorting of entries. This is where many entries get dropped. Entries submitted during the entry period which do not follow the rules are separated from those which respect every aspect of the DV regulations. Recent statistics show that about half of the entries submitted get disqualified because of violation of the rules; most surround the taking of the photo. Once the disqualified entries are discarded, the rest (QUALIFIED ENTRIES) undergo a random electronic selection to determine the winners, thereby ascribing to the program its lottery characteristic.
Fortune, Not Fitness
It is at this point that luck comes into play. This stage of the process is entirely beyond the control of applicants. As mentioned earlier, the number of winners sought is 50,000. Statistics show that generally only a fraction of qualified entries eventually win the DV Lottery.
It takes up to about six months (generally till May of the following year), and the results of applicants who submitted their entries during the DV entry period become attainable from the official DV website, using a set of personal data and a confirmation number gotten at the time of entry submission.
In the months that follow, applicants whose entries were selected would first have to fill in an immigrant visa application form (DS-260) online, then prepare a number of relevant documents, pay the required fees, do a medical test at a designated center, and eventually sit for an interview during which a visa counselor would determine, based on the facts and documents submitted, whether they qualify to immigrate to the United States.
Those who qualify are awarded immigrant visas, and they have to emigrate to the United States before their visas expire. On the other hand, disqualification during interview would mark the end of applicants’ ongoing DV process, without possibility of refund of expenses incurred during the process. It takes anywhere from about five months to more than a year to complete this process, counting from the date the results are released.