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Gail S. Seeram





The Department of State is accepting applications for the 2011 Diversity Visa Lottery program through Nov. 30, 2009. Each year, the Diversity Visa Lottery program makes 55,000 permanent resident visas available to people from eligible countries who meet the strict requirements. Of the 55,000 immigrant visas, 5,000 are allocated for use under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), thereby making only 50,000 permanent resident visas available on an annual basis.

During last year’s 2010 visa lottery process, 13.6 million visa lottery applications were received and there were 102,800 winners randomly chosen. Since not all winners submit an application and pursue visa issuance, the larger number ensures that all 50,000 visas will be issued and used. Immigrant visas under the 2010 visa lottery were issued to the following Caribbean countries: Guyana 41, Trinidad & Tobago 226, St. Lucia 19, Grenada 9, Suriname 10, Barbados 29, Antigua & Barbuda 9, St. Kitts & Nevis 6, and St. Vincent 9.

The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the period of the past five years. Within each region, no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.

The Department of State chooses the winners of the Diversity Visa Lottery program randomly through a computer-generated lottery drawing. Anyone selected under the Diversity Visa Lottery program will be notified directly by the U.S. Department of State through the mail. If the winner is granted permanent residency, s/he will be authorized to live and work in the United States along with their spouse and children under age 21.

There are four basic entry requirements for the Diversity Visa Lottery program.

Native of Eligible Country: Applicants must be a native of an eligible country. Natives from the following countries are not eligible to apply because they sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States during the past five (5) years: Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom, and Vietnam. 

Education or Work Experience: Applicants must have either a high school education or its equivalent or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.

Photograph: Recent photographs of the applicant and his family must be submitted with their application. Note, a group or family photo will not be accepted. Since the application is submitted online, the digital photos are also required to be submitted online. Thereby, the photos can be produced by taking a new digital image or using a digital scanner to scan a submitted photograph. If a new digital image is submitted, it must be in JPEG format, have a maximum file size of 240KB, have a resolution of 600 pixels high by 600 pixels wide, and have color depth of 24-bit color. If a scan photo is submitted, it must be scanned at a resolution of 150 dpi, it must be in JPEG format, have a maximum file size of 240KB, have a resolution of 600 by 600 pixels, and have a color depth of 24-bit color. Note: this is the most cumbersome part of the process because if your photo does not meet these specific requirements, your application will not be accepted online.

Application: The Diversity Visa Lottery application is accessible only at and must be submitted online. Note, when your application and photo have been accepted on-line, a confirmation screen will appear and this should be printed for your records.

Gail S. Seeram, an immigration attorney, handles cases involving family petitions, business/investors visas, citizenship, deportation, asylum, work authorization and extension of status. Call her office toll- free at 1-877-GAIL-LAW (1-877-424-5529), send an email at or visit


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