The Diversity Lottery is a congressionally mandated program which makes available 50.000 Permanent Resident Cards annually to persons of countries with low immigration rates to the United States.
It is commonly known as the „American Green Card lottery“. When the program was established, back in 1990, the Permanent Residence Cards were printed in green. Due to the green color the Permant Resident Card received the name „Green Card“. This name stayed even though the appearance of the card has changed.
The idea behind the Diversity Lottery is simple. The winners of a Permanent Resident Card are eventually drawn by a computer-generated, random lottery out of all eligible entrants. Yet, all entrants have to meet eligibility requirements.
Residents of countries which sent more than 50.000 immigrants to the United States during a timeframe of 5 years are ineligible to take part in the Diversity Lottery. For the DV-11 those countries were Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
Besides this selection criterion, entrants of the Diversity Lottery must have at least a high school education or an equivalent degree. If not they have to have two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.
Finally, if they meet the qualifications, they will have to submit all information (including e.g. name, current residency, country of birth, education) as well as a photograph electronically.