"Ongoing congressional deliberations over whether to maintain, alter, or eliminate the diversity immigrant visa program1 (also known as the “lottery” or DV program) include an interest in the geographical origins of immigrants who have been admitted through this program. This fact sheet provides data on the regional and national origins of diversity immigrants (DV immigrants) and how they have shifted over time.
Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
The purpose of the DV program is to provide an avenue for immigration from countries other
than the major sending countries2
of current immigrants to the United States. It 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). DV immigrants account for about 5% of all immigrants admitted to the United States
annually. The program went into full effect in 1995.
The DV program makes 50,000 visas available annually to natives of countries from which
immigrant admissions were lower than a total of 50,000 over the preceding five years.3 The
formula for allocating visas is based on statutory specifications; visas are divided among six
global geographic regions according to the relative populations of the regions, with their
allocation weighted in favor of countries in regions that were under-represented among immigrant
admissions to the United States during the past five years. The INA limits each country to 7% of