The Green Card Lottery program provides 50,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) each fiscal year. Persons are randomly drawn from entries of the persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. It is officially called the Diversity Immigrant Visa program and provides a U.S. Green Card to those selected, go through the entire process of getting an immigrant visa, and are not otherwise ineligible to immigrate to the U.S.
The Green Card lottery is conducted annually by the Department of State under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 to provide for a new class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants”.
The law allows for a maximum of 50,000 Permanent Resident visas each year to eligible persons as part of the DV lottery program.
The Diversity Lottery program is intended to give an immigration opportunity to persons from countries that do not send too many people to the United States already. That would make the immigration population “diverse” in the U.S. That is a good intention in theory. However, if a particular country has only a total population of 30,000 or is a 5 mile long island, they are considered the same way as the big countries like India or China that have over a billion people each.
Some people argue that it is unfair that 50,000 random people from different parts of the world are picked up and given permanent residence in the U.S. Many of those people may not be well educated or skilled workers. However, highly skilled workers who come to the U.S. on an H1 visa may have to wait many years and go through a very complicated procedure without a clear path to a green card. Some people think that the Diversity Visa lottery is not a fair U.S. immigration system.