"The diversity visa lottery offers an opportunity for immigration to nationals of countries that do not have high levels of immigration. Aliens from eligible countries had until noon on December 30, 2003 to submit their applications for the FY2005 diversity visa lottery. Aliens who are selected through the lottery, if they are otherwise admissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), may become legal permanent residents of the United States. Participation in the diversity visa lottery is limited annually to 55,000 aliens from countries that are under-represented among recent immigrant admissions to the United States. In FY2001, over 8 million aliens from around the world sent in applications for the FY2003 lottery. Of the diversity visas awarded in FY2002, European immigrants comprised 39.4% of the diversity visa recipients and African immigrants received 38.1%. This report does not track legislation and will not be regularly updated. The purpose of the diversity visa lottery is, as the name suggests, to encourage legal immigration from countries other than the major sending countries of current immigration to the United States. The law weighs allocation of immigrant visas heavily towards aliens with close family in the United States and, to a lesser extent, aliens who meet particular employment needs. The diversity immigrant category was added to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by the Immigration Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-649) to stimulate "new seed" immigration, i.e. to foster new, more varied, migration from other parts of the world. The current diversity lottery began in FY1995 following 3 transitional years with temporary lotteries."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21342